Tiruchirapalli

Ariyalur homemaker to turn a neat profit with vermicompost venture

Azhagu Dheeran, a self-taught vermicomposting entrepreneur from Kottiyal village in Ariyalur, runs a successful online business from her home-based unit.

Azhagu Dheeran, a self-taught vermicomposting entrepreneur from Kottiyal village in Ariyalur, runs a successful online business from her home-based unit.

A graduate homemaker from Kottiyal village in T. Pazhur block of Ariyalur district has found success as a vermicompost entrepreneur during the lockdown, thanks to soaring sales through e-commerce.

S. Azhaku Dheeran, 36, a mother of two, was inspired by her agriculturist father to take up vermiculture, the scientific process of rearing of earthworms to decompose organic waste into compost, after she got married.

Ms. Dheeran, who holds a Masters in Chemistry and a B.Ed from Government College for Women in Kumbakonam, started her vermicompost business in August 2019 by investing ₹1 lakh from her husband’s savings. Today she employs four workers and manufactures nearly one tonne of vermicompost-based planting mix (fortified with cow manure and soil) per week that is sold online under the brand name ‘Soil Spirit.’ She recently registered the trademark called ‘Aerboreal’ for her product.

“Though it is not easy, I feel young people from rural areas do not always have to migrate to big cities in search of jobs. They can create their livelihood from their intrinsic skill sets,” Ms. Dheeran told The Hindu .

Starting off with five kilos of earthworms sourced from a dealer in Perambalur and one 12x4 metre ‘bed’ for manufacturing compost, Ms. Dheeran has expanded her unit recently to keep up with the demand.

She decided to sell online when direct business did not take off as she expected. “Many farmers were still not ready to consider organic fertilizers for their crop, and so I was left with a huge stockpile of vermicompost. After some research, I realised that I should take my idea to customers who were looking for natural inputs, and going online was the best way to do this,” she said.

At present, a majority of her customers are hobby gardeners from Chennai and Bengaluru, besides organic farmers in Tamil Nadu. She has also formed a group of 10 farmers in a nearby village to help her prepare compost for bigger orders.

Besides platforms like Amazon, Ms. Dheeran also undertakes orders on WhatsApp and offers online tutorials to aspiring vermicompost manufacturers.

Ms. Dheeran sees the closure of physical shops during lockdown as a fillip for agri-entrepreneurs like her. “With greater interest from city dwellers in organic farming, my planting mix is ideal for those want to set up terrace gardens. But vermicompost will not give instant results for farmers who rely on chemical fertilizers. It will take at least three years for the yield to match up with that of non-organic inputs,” she said.

Among her biggest challenges has been coordinating the logistics. “Our nearest postal parcel service is 20 km away in Jayankondam. I transport my orders in an autorickshaw once a week to dispatch them from there. Some of the packages are rather heavy, so I need help from load men, as well. Despite this, I have managed to fulfill most deliveries within 10 days of booking,” she said.


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Printable version | May 19, 2022 12:20:48 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/ariyalur-homemaker-to-turn-a-neat-profit-with-vermicompost-venture/article38304037.ece