Home Animal How a Retired Colonel Discovered Ardour in Orchid Farming; Discovered From Farmers

How a Retired Colonel Discovered Ardour in Orchid Farming; Discovered From Farmers

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How a Retired Colonel Discovered Ardour in Orchid Farming; Discovered From Farmers

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Colonel Sujan Mohanty (57), is a retired military man who got down to create a profitable life for himself publish his service of twenty-two years. A civil engineer as nicely, he now cultivates and manages an orchid farm for a residing.

Named ‘Orchid n Extra’, the farm is situated in Kantapada village close to Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary, about 23 km from Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

Together with the assistance of his spouse, Monalisa Mohanty (53), his outfit has gained an annual turnover of about Rs 15 lakh, a feat which they managed to realize in about two and a half years.

Whereas orchid cultivation just isn’t a simple feat, Sujan shares what qualities are required to make this a fruitful vocation.

“One ought to have persistence and perseverance to take up this job. One has to attend for 2 years for an appropriate and correct yield at first. An acre of land could solely produce 60,000 flowers, to start with, however wait and watch in surprise how that quantity slowly shoots as much as nearly two lakhs quickly. My coaching within the military has helped me immensely with this career. That’s the one cause why I’m now capable of reap the advantages of it,” he says.

“Because the spouse of a military man, I’ve been ingrained with these traits as nicely. I’ve to play the function of a strong assist system each in his private {and professional} life,” provides Monalisa. 

Nevertheless, it wasn’t at all times clean crusing for Sujan earlier than he selected orchid cultivation, a enterprise which is completely alien to him. However with pure dedication and willpower, his thought took root after which there was no turning again.

The Mohantys with visitors at their farm.
The Mohantys with guests at their farm.

How ‘Orchids N Extra’ got here to be

Sujan had been in a repair over his future after his retirement in 2012. He needed to interrupt into a brand new enterprise however was baffled by the variety of choices out there. His curiosity, nonetheless, lay in floriculture. However he knew he wanted time to make a sensible selection.

So he proceeded to affix Bengaluru-based Café Espresso Day Group as the pinnacle of services. 

After working there for one 12 months, he converted to Adani Group as the pinnacle of operations in Ahmedabad until 2016. Then he returned to Bhubaneswar, the place he was born and introduced up, to quiet down. Right here he joined a civil engineering consultancy agency referred to as Op & Hs Infra as director-partner.    

“As a military man, I can’t be idle. The roles not solely stored me busy but additionally gave me time to analysis various kinds of floriculture,” Sujan explains.

However one thing was amiss. The nagging sense of doing one thing of his personal stored him busy. He went on researching, browsing the web, debating and discussing completely different enterprise enterprise concepts along with his buddies and spouse. Lastly, in 2017, the Mohantys zeroed in on orchid farming.

“I as soon as toyed with the concept of rose cultivation. Once I learnt that the longevity of a plucked rose is 2 to a few days and that of an orchid’s vase (a set-up of coconut husks the place orchids develop) is 20 to 30 days, I opted for this as a substitute,” says Sujan. 

However that got here with its personal set of issues. For one, he had no land or funds to assist the concept.

Monalisa Mohanty with the workers of their farm checking up on the flowers.
Monalisa Mohanty with the employees of their farm checking up on the flowers.

The analysis and efforts that went into setting it up

Sujan then met specialists from Odisha College of Agriculture and Know-how (OUAT) and numerous orchid growers in Huma of Ganjam district to get the hold of it. 

“My spouse and I toured throughout India for eight months in 2018 to fulfill the farmers there and get hands-on data of the ability,” he says. 

A number of the locations that they toured had been Siliguri in Assam, Shillong in Meghalaya, and Baramati close to Pune in Maharashtra. 

Kitted out with preliminary data, the couple geared as much as make the leap into farming. They procured a patch of two,500 sq ft on lease from an deserted farm of practically 15 acres in Kantapada.

They then secured a mortgage of about Rs 24 lakh with some 50 p.c subsidy from the horticulture division within the Khordha district.

Dr Debasish Mishra, the assistant director (horticulture), Khordha, explains how the scheme for individuals within the profession works. “Below the Protected Cultivation Part of Mission for Built-in Improvement of Horticulture (MIDH) of the central authorities, the scheme promotes completely different horticulture sectors that embody flowers, fragrant crops, greens, tuber crops roots and mushrooms,” he says.

Availing of the advantages of this scheme, Sujan arrange a polyhouse — a kind of specialized construction that utilises managed weather conditions for the expansion of crops — on the land to accommodate orchid saplings.  

“Flowers like orchids can develop nicely inside a polyhouse when the temperature is 20 to 25 levels Celsius and humidity ranges between 40 to 70 p.c. Moreover, a micro-irrigation set-up is an added fixture as orchids require little water. Nevertheless, quantifying the water requirement is tough because it differs from species to species,” says Dr (Prof) Sharat Chandra Sahoo of the division of fruit science and horticulture of OUAT.

The Mohantys then proceeded to get white and purple orchid saplings from Bengaluru as the town has the very best styles of orchids out there. They employed round 25 native labourers to get began with the farm. 

Different obstacles alongside their manner

With Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary flanking the farm, there was a concern of untamed animals akin to elephants, boars and deer coming and ruining the plot. The presence of venomous snakes was one other massive subject that haunted Sujan.

“I arrange a photo voltaic fence across the polyhouse at a price of about Rs 6 lakh. I stored pots with carbolic acid at their entry factors, the odor of which supposedly retains snakes away. I learnt this info from the web,” says Sujan, reporting that this trick has up to now labored very nicely on the farm. 

The percentages had been nonetheless stacked in opposition to him because the orchids began blooming within the polyhouse solely after 10 months. They had been small in measurement and didn’t click on with the flower market of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. 

The market there may be stated to have an annual turnover of over Rs 100 crore, the place orchids have a share of practically eight p.c. Sujan, nonetheless, bided his time. As soon as his orchids grew in form and measurement, they began to promote between Rs 15 and Rs 30. He additionally managed the gross sales and advertising and marketing capabilities of the farm and shortly the enterprise began selecting up momentum. Their enterprise even forayed into the markets of Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune.

Pure disasters performed a dampener

Simply because the Mohantys started reaping the outcomes of their arduous work, cyclone Fani struck in Could 2019. The roof of the polyhouse was blown away and part of its boundary wall collapsed through the stormy downpour. The couple needed to spend over Rs 6 lakh from their private financial savings to reset issues. 

This catastrophe was quickly adopted by the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, bringing every little thing to a standstill. Monalisa — who takes care of the administration of the polyhouse and operations inside it — stated that they didn’t let these setbacks go away them nonplussed. 

Colonel Mohanty inspecting the new polyhouse being set up on his farm.
Colonel Mohanty inspecting the brand new polyhouse being arrange on his farm.

“We introduced our orchids to policemen, well being staff and different frontline warriors as a mark of respect for his or her selfless service throughout this attempting time,” she says. 

“We additionally made orchid bouquets through the second wave of the pandemic and offered them at a value between Rs 500 and Rs 1,000. Although the sale proceeds weren’t sufficient, it might meet practically 15 p.c of our administration price,” she says, mentioning that they slowly limped again to normalcy. “We had been capable of maintain ourselves on my husband’s pension and the cash we saved. We’re additionally grateful that we might assist our employees throughout that point of disaster,” she provides. 

What’s subsequent for the farm

Sujan has made up his thoughts to purchase one other patch of two,500 sq ft subsequent to his current plot to increase the orchid farm. To that impact, he has already utilized for a mortgage of about Rs 55 lakh with a 50 p.c subsidy. 

The state authorities enterprise referred to as Agricultural Promotion and Funding Company, offers monetary help beneath the Mukhyamantri Krushi Udyog Yojana, an initiative of the state authorities, he informs.   

Although Colonel Sujan’s important focus is on floriculture, he’s now turning to apiculture, which is beekeeping.

When he initially began the orchid farm, he had procured 15 bins of bees and colonies as nicely. This got here at a price of Rs 4,000 every. Later, he added 25 extra colonies. 

Colonel Mohanty briefing interns at his farm.
Colonel Mohanty briefing interns at his farm.

The honey from the primary batch sells at Rs 1,200 per litre, bringing in an annual turnover of over Rs 2.5 lakh. Each these practices have immensely benefited one another, explains Sujan. “The apiculture has helped enhance the orchid manufacturing by 20 p.c by means of pollination,” he provides. 

“Now, my spouse and I train farmers and interns at OUAT and on the Siksa ‘O’ Anusandhan orchid farming and apiculture. So far, now we have briefed practically 15 batches of farmers and interns,” he provides, blissful that he might deliver his entrepreneurial dream to success. 

Authored by Niroj Ranjan Misra.

Edited by Padmashree Pande; All image credit to Sujan Mohanty.



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