Besides running mushroom farms, Manoj imparts training too
K. Manoj Kumar, who was born with hearing and speech impairment, never let his disability deter his dreams and success.
A B.Com graduate with gold medal from St. Louis College for Hearing Impaired in Chennai, Mr. Manoj’s entry into the league of achievers is motivating.
Seven years ago, Mr. Manoj and his wife M. Krishna Kumari, a microbiology graduate, started a small scale mushroom farm at Pudhupatti.
Ever since, there is no looking back for the couple, who run ‘Udayan Mushroom Farm,’ which now exports oyster and milky mushroom to Kerala, Hyderabad and Maharashtra.
“We had to shift our farm to Kadachanenthal because the environment at Pudhupatti was not conducive. Initially, when we started farming, we found it difficult to sell even one kilogram of mushroom,” says Mrs. Krishna Kumari.
Today, Mr. Manoj’s enterprise has 25 small scale mushroom farms functioning under it and he has trained around 500 persons in the past two years on mushroom cultivation.
His team of support staff in the farm include three hearing impaired persons and four persons who underwent rehabilitation for mental disabilities.
“I started my own mushroom farm inspired by their success and with the help of their encouragement. The business is quite profitable,” says Shantha Devi Akilan Davis, an elderly neighbour of the couple. She is also involved in the training activities undertaken by Udayan Farm.
J. S. Gopinath, who underwent rehabilitation at M.S. Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation, says he enjoys working under Mr. Manoj.
“He has taught me how to cultivate mushrooms. I also learned to rear ornamental fish,” he says. Mr. Manoj also rears “fighter fish” for his father’s farm.
According to P. Moorthy, co-ordinator of the training programme, a large number of differently abled people have benefitted from the training.
“There is a high demand for mushrooms in the market. Most of the people who underwent training here had physical disabilities or were from an economically backward background. This has helped them sustain their livelihood,” Mr. Moorthy says.
The simple person that he is, Mr. Manoj attributes his success to his wife, who has been his major support all along.
“People with hearing impairment generally tend to depend on others for income. We wanted to be self-reliant. We are also happy to support others in need,” signs off Mrs. Krishna Kumari.