In the heart of Kerala, a land known for its verdant beauty and rich agricultural heritage, James, a local entrepreneur, has embarked on a remarkable journey, reshaping the contours of herb farming. His story, a testament to innovation and perseverance, offers a glimpse into the burgeoning sector of growing herbs for profit in India.
Hailing from Kerala, James recognized the untapped potential in herb farming, a sector often overlooked in traditional agriculture. With a deep-rooted connection to the land and a forward-thinking mindset, he ventured into this green enterprise, transforming his passion into a thriving business. This journey reflects a growing trend among Indian entrepreneurs exploring sustainable and profitable agricultural practices.
Herb Farming Business – Setup Costs
James’s approach to herb farming was marked by strategic planning and astute cost management. Starting with a modest investment, he adopted organic farming methods, aligning with the rising demand for organic produce and significantly reducing reliance on costly chemicals. The initial investment, quite affordable, started around ₹25,000 (approximately $300), making herb farming an attractive venture for many.
The advantage here in herb farming is that it will not increase the cost of production at any time during the process of production. Other farming businesses requires additional costs for every stage of production using high tech tools and machines, but herb farming will not create such situations. You are free from high costs incurred in purchasing pesticides and chemical growth stimulators. All you have to do is, grow them as organic as possible.
Elimination of chemicals will not only produce healthy herbs, it stays useful in reducing the production costs. Invest your capital wisely by hiring inexpensive land for the farm. If not a land, start production at your backyard itself. Layer when you gain profits at a higher level, expand the production. Thus, there is no particular range for setup costs. This business requires a very little amount of money which you can estimate on the basis of your decisions on the style and size of the farm.
Methods of Initiating Growth
Herbs are to be taken care of very keenly at the stage of initiation to avoid any unfavorable situations of stunted growth. There are three different varieties of initiators for herb farming.
- Seeds- Starting the production by sowing seeds is one of the traditional methods and this is said to be the most effective one. Here, the quality of seeds you sow decides the growth rate of your herb. And also, the after-sowing processes will result in a healthier plant though those processes are a bit complex.
- Cuttings – The next method is the use of cuttings. Propagating it through plant cuttings of the same variety will enable you to produce the exact copy of the cutting you used.
- Plantling – This is the latest method being used for starting the growth. This method allows you to easily carry out the planting process than the above two methods. You are free from waiting for the germination of the plant.
Perennials or Annuals?
A pivotal aspect of James’s success was his choice of herbs. He focused on varieties that were both popular in the market and suited to Kerala’s climate. Culinary herbs like tulsi (basil), dhania (coriander), and pudina (mint) were among his first choices, known for their quick growth cycles and widespread use in Indian cuisine. Medicinal herbs like lavanga (lavender) and rosemary, commanding higher market prices, were also part of his repertoire.
Perennial type of herbs is a variety which takes more than a year to be a matured herb. These are long term investment which will grow and produce enormous amounts of herbs once grown. Considering all this, it is clear that growing perennials will give huge profits but at a later time. This is for people who can wait for the profits and can invest a little higher than investing in annual herbs.
Apart from the time perspective, perennials differ from annuals in life span too. Annuals grow, mature and die in one year itself. The whole life cycle is completed within a year. Perennials always exceed a year in during these processes. Annuals turn your farm into cash in a very short period of time. They do not take much time for harvesting and this advantage makes it beneficial for entrepreneurs who want to take back the invested money soon. So now, it is your decision to choose the appropriate kind of herb for your farm. I would recommend annuals for young entrepreneurs since the investment made is not locked for a very long time.
Opportunities in Herbs Farming Business
- If you start farming, it is important to know about the areas where you can make money. Basically, herbs are of a number of varieties on the basis of their usage. Majorly, they are being used in almost 90% of the food items. Garnishing foods with herbs has become a mandatory step before the food is served. Thus, food sector greatly paves way for you to generate income through the production of garnishing herbs.
- Next important area is health. There are people who make use of herbs for medicinal purpose. In this itself, you have herbs which prevent disease and herbs which cure diseases. Herbs itself are healthy, but there are specific varieties of herbs which are consumed mainly for their nutritive value.
- Decorative herbs are also there, but the use here is not as large as the use of healthy and garnishing herbs. But, there are also chances to earn money if you have the ability to market these herbs. Not that ornamental herbs do not give money, it is just rare.
- Nursery business from herb farming, a branch from the existing business. For people who want to grow herbs at home, you can be a source. Grow herbs and sell them in pots or cut a part of the herb and sell as cuttings. Profits here are comparatively higher than other areas.
Step by Step Process of Growing Herbs Using Seeds
- Growing herbs is the simplest thing you could do for making money. You just have to spend an hour a day to take care of your farm.
- Firstly, decide the method of propagation so that the next steps are done without any interruption. Now the below steps are for growing herbs using seeds.
- Make the soil or the growing bed ready with maximum nutritive elements. Remember, the soil which you use should be free from chemicals and toxic substances. As already mentioned size of the farm is decided by the investment you make.
- Start the propagation by sowing seeds evenly on the area. Have a considerable amount of space between each so that they are not restricted from spreading. Get natural seeds which has the capacity to grow without the use of any stimulator to initiate it. Also, purchase seeds at right quantity to avoid wastage of excess seeds. They might lose their capacity to grow if stored for a longer period of time.
- Make the top layer of the soil moist by spraying required quantities of water. Don’t make it too watery by excess application of water since this will end up in the floating of seeds. This will stop the growth as the seeds will automatically be away from the position it was initially.
- Now, when the sowing process is done use some natural fertilizers like worm compost or compost tea. This will give you healthier herbs with high nutritive value.
- Do not use any pesticides or insect preventing chemicals on the soil. Herbs are grown in a purely organic method.
- Water the herbs once in a day just to make the top layer of the soil wet and with this the process is complete. You can harvest it whenever the herb reaches the maturity stage. There is no one particular period of time within which all the different types of herbs will be ready to harvest. The maturity stage varies from each variety of herb. So, study them properly before harvesting.
Steps to Grow Herbs using Plantlings
This method is for people who cannot get seeds or cuttings. Though the method is easy, it is not as effective as growing herbs through other listed methods. There are only two extreme conditions of this method. The herb will either grow fast without taking time for germination or it will fail even to grow due to reasons which cannot be figured out easily. The steps are extremely simple and requires only two major activities.
- Take a plantling and incorporate it in a healthy soil. Make sure you don’t immerse the whole of it into the soil.
- Water it on a daily basis without disturbing the leaves and roots by making it damp.
Steps to Grow Herbs Using Cuttings
- In this method, care management is an important factor to make the production more effective. Herbs are grown using cuttings from any available source. Depending on your needs purchase the cuttings or just get it from your friend’s garden.
- Once you have purchased your cutting, check for its quality and capability to grow further. Check if you have the nodes on it which is the main element to initiate growth.
- Now place the cutting inside a clean jar or any container with enough of fresh water. Cover 3/4th of the jar with water.
- Chop the leaves if any, so that they do not interrupt the new cycle of growth. This is because these leaves might spoil the setup if they are rotten due to the water in the jar.
- Now, place the setup in any area where there is adequate supply of sunlight. Direct sunlight is not advisable since they may let the cutting dry allowing it to stay stable without growing.
- Change the water daily and keep the setup in the same manner for few weeks.
- You will notice the roots growing and when these roots grow it is time for you to transplant it to the soil.
- Take the cutting with the newly developed root and plant it in soil spray water and other natural fertilizers to keep it healthy. And with this, the process is done. You are now ready to harvest it after complete growth.
Herbs And Their Suitable Growing Methods
Once you are ware of the methods, you should choose the right kind of herb to start farming. The methods listed will not be suitable to all the herbs. Each herb will require its own kind of propagation. Some will need seeds, few will need plantling while few others will grow only with cuttings.
Herbs that requires seeds for growth
- English thyme
- Greek oregano
Herbs that can grow with cuttings
- Lemon balm
- Sweet woodruff
Tips For Making More Profits by Selling Herbs
- Save more space and increase productivity by employing modern techniques of layout. New and innovative layout making use of every inch of your land will end up in double the normal production. Herbs growing on walls and layered tubs are now the top ranked in increasing the quantities.
- Herbs of different varieties can be grown together and you can make use of this to serve a wide range of customers.
- Take special care to increase the soil quality. Prepare the soil bed in such a way that the planted herb gets all the required nutrients and also the nutrients are spread in the entire area. To achieve this, split the soil into three layers. Layer 1 to the any natural growth stimulator, layer 2 as soil and layer 3 as soil and manure mixed together.
- Instead of selling by choosing any one target crowd, you can concentrate on two or more businesses at a time. Say you have harvested your herbs, and you are now ready to dispatch it. You could profitably use a portion of it for decorative purpose, another portion for craft work, another can be left dry and sold as herb powder. So, the point here is you have to figure out different purposes of each herb and serve it to variety of customers. By doing this you can eliminate conditions of loss due to less sales in one particular area.
The Journey of Patience and Innovation
James’s path in herb farming highlights the importance of patience and adaptability. He learned to cater to the varying growth patterns of different herbs, understanding that some varieties mature faster than others. His approach, blending traditional practices with modern techniques, has become a model in the Indian agriculture sector.
Conclusion: A Story of Sustainable Entrepreneurship
James’s story is more than just about growing herbs for profit. It represents the spirit of Indian entrepreneurship, a blend of respect for nature and innovative thinking. His venture into herb farming serves as an inspiration, showing how a simple idea, nurtured with dedication and insight, can grow into a successful and sustainable business. As he continues his journey, James’s story offers valuable lessons on the potential and profitability of herb farming in India.