Organcially produced fresh veggies delivered along with newspaper. Innovates subscription method for sales and delivery
Vegetables and greens are sold on a ‘monthly subscription’ basis, home delivered through newspaper distributors and payments collected monthly. Monthly subscription charges are Rs. 150/month for which few selected vegetables and 10 bundles of greens (as opted by customers) are delivered at the door steps. The farm has base customers numbering up to 400 regular subscribers.
Vegetable delivery through subscription method is practiced at Avinash Agro Farms. It was established by IT professionals who had their roots in traditional farming. Mr. Palaniappan, Mrs. Pachanayaki, Mr. Annamalai, Mr. Shanmuganathan & Mr. Keerthirajan are the founders of the company. “In Jan 2012 we bought 100 acres land, and in Feb 2013 we started our first crop cultivation. Our farm is 71 Kms south of Madurai, in a village called Aathipatti, Taluk Sattur, District Virudhunagar, State Tamil Nadu,” says Mr. Keerthirajan Palaniappan, BE, (Managing Partner).
Out of 100 acres, the founders developed just 12 acres and prototyping with only 2 acres of organic veggies, and the balance of 10 acres has about 1000 trees of 40 varieties. “For 100 acres of land we invested about Rs. 1.2 crores and for development about Rs. 50 Lakhs,” shares Mr. Palaniappan. The annual output is about 120 tons of which 90 tons are sold and the rest 30 tons go waste due to handling, transport, sales return etc. The products are sold mainly at Sattur, Aruppukottai, Koilpatti, and Madurai which are the towns within 40 kms radius. “We have strategically decided not to move our farm produce beyond 100 kms for sales,” he adds.
12 varieties of traditional greens & 6 varieties of vegetables (like gourds, tomatoes, chillies, onions, and brinjal) are grown at the farm. “We take prior order confirmation from customers explaining them the varieties of greens we would supply for every month,” shares Mr. Palniappan on the functioning of the farm. “So I know the exact requirements upfront and accordingly plan by crop cycle.” The farm also has veggies commonly accepted. “Our fresh produce have real good response,” he adds.
The company employs zero-tilling method in its cultivation. “We make use of concepts of permaculture,” says Mr. Palaniapppan. In this method 6″ of equal mix of farm manure, coco peat and local top soil is laid over a bed of 6″ of leaf mulch layer in 1 meter wide and 50 meters long bed. “With this 1 feet high bed we get a fertile media for crops, which is free of weeds,” he adds.
The advantage of this method is that it provides a weed-free, fertile-growing media which can tolerate heavy rain and drought. It is also a good breeding ground for earthworms and other helpful micro-organisms. The only backdrop of this method is that of high cost which is about Rs. 50 per sqft.
In live-mulching method pulses are grown along with the main crop. “By 45 days the pulses which are bio-cots will have averted weed growth, fixed enough nitrogen to soil, and will also help as bio manure when cut and laid over the raised bed between the main crops,” shares Mr. Palaniappan, “On testing this theory on small area, I was convinced this was the most appropriate for growing most of all veggie crops.”
“Agronomically, it is advisable to have mixed crops which will keep the soil on a balanced depletion of minerals,” shares Mr. Palaniappan. Some other advantages are being able to provide a range of products to cater to the end customers and financial security to avert loses in cases of market failures for certain crop.
The inputs used at the farm are native cattle’s manure and self-made panchkavyam, fish amino oil, jeewamritha etc. These natural farming inputs are procured from about 120 native cows.
When asked if they have dairy unit to manage 120 native cows, Mr. Palaniappan explains, “We do not own these cows. These are owned by the village people and are grazed by a family who we have tied up with on contract basis. We provide water, shelter for the cattle and take manure. In addition we also pay about Rs. 6 thousand per month for the same,” he informs.
Founders of Avinash Agro Farms plan to increase the customer base to up to 800-1000 within 2015. Also they plan to add value added products like packed green powders to reduce the wastage arising out of unsold products.
Avinash Agro Farms
Mettupatti Papakudi Road, Village Aathipatti, Panchayat Kosukundu, Sattur Taluk, Virudhunagar District, Tamil Nadu
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