Sambhajirao Sadashiv Mali – Profile of a farmer

Plans of growing premium crops post retirement. Prefers to sell the produce to contract buyers

Mr. Sambhajirao Sadashiv Mali grows 33 varieties of exotic vegetables in 3 acres farm in Wadgaon village, Maharashtra. Mr. Mali, 60, worked throughout his career as agriculture officer in Maharashtra state but after retirement he decided to live his dream of growing high priced crops. He shares, “I graduated in 1977. I planned for growing exclusively high valued premium crops like cloves and cardamom. Those days glass house technology was used for growing these crops in dryland areas instead of greenhouse. But in 1979 I got into the job and plans for farming were left behind.”

He did not take any services of consultant for this post-retirement farming venture. Being an agriculture officer he was engaged in inspection of soil and water. In addition, when in service, he made one project ‘Suitable crops for Dryland farming in Maharashtra’, it highlighted how farmers can do farming using less water and resources yet earn well. “We researched and concluded it is profitable to grow exotic vegetables in greenhouse. I got lot of information in this process. So after retirement in 2013 I decided to set up a small unit for growing exotic vegetables on my farm,” shares Mr. Mali.

Greenhouse was installed in one acre land where as rest 2 acres was used for open field cultivation with the capital investment of Rs. 46 lakhs. “I took 75% loan from SBI and rest 25% is our contribution. Subsidy received is Rs.18 lakhs,” he shares.

Saplings of all 33 exotic vegetables are developed using seeds. “Within the farm, I have some space for nursery where I develop these saplings. It usually takes 20-30 days for developing the saplings,” he informs.

Harvest of veggies varies with respect to the plant growth. “We have three segments, in first the veggies grow in 40-45 days, second segment veggies grow in 2.5 month where as third segment veggies takes about 6 months,” shares Mr. Mali and adds, “Selling price of vegetables in first segment is least priced like pokchai is sold at Rs. 10/kg, second segment like iceberg, broccoli is sold at Rs.40-50/kg where as third segment veggies are sold as premium products and fetches high returns such as russell sprout that is sold at Rs. 100/kg. These are selling price in winters, it changes in summers for example broccoli is sold at Rs. 150/kg in summers. ”

Drip and sprinklers are used for irrigation. Chemical based farming inputs are used at the farm for all the vegetables. However, Mr. Mali is experimenting 100% organic farming with 5 Italian varieties of tomatoes. All these tomatoes are grown in greenhouse. In total 18 people are working at the farm.

At the moment entire produce is sold to broker who re-sells the veggies in Mumbai and Goa market. However, Mr. Mali soon shall be having tie-up with three contract buyers. “I have three offers for the annual contract for vegetable sales. Mostly I shall be entering in contract with all three of them because dealing with only one contract buyer is more risky. All 33 veggies will be sold to all three contract buyers in fixed quantities,” he elaborates, “Three of them offer different price structure. One of them is offering price including the transportation cost while two are offering price excluding transportation cost. On an average the price comes out to be closely rated by three of them.”

Deliveries are made to the buyers through the luxury buses. He shares, “I have a tie-up with transport companies. I just need to inform them before hand about the number of boxes to be sent and have to leave the veggie boxes at their office near to my farm.”

Mr. Mali feels contract farming is more secured than direct sales as there is constant flow of money no matter the returns are little less. Further he feels, “Contract is surely a better deal as we sell the veggies before producing it. We do not have any worries of selling. In this way we can even grow more and earn more.”

Sharing his future plans Mr. Mali says, “I am expecting net profit of Rs. 15-16 lakhs/year with exotic vegetable farming. Once this venture settles down I shall be next working on setting up mushroom farm.” Today he is contended to be able to grow premium crops with help of improved farming technology, “Farmers in my area were suffering due to the failed pomegranate farming and approached me for the alternative. With my farming venture, I am able to give them the alternate as in green house farming that is tested and proved to be a success,” he concludes.

Contact details-
Sambhajirao Sadashiv Mali Farm
A/P Peth, Wadgaon, Tal. Hatkanangle Dist Kolhapur, Maharashtra
Phone: 94039 64352
Email: ssmali1955@gmail.com