The plight of farmers in India is not unknown to the citizens, however, Rajasthan’s Yogesh Joshi is using his Rs 50 crore turnover organic farming business to bring positive change to the lives of thousands of farmers, one crop at a time.
Yogesh hails from a family of government employees, and his father, a Nagar Palika Chief Officer wanted his son to get a respectable degree and a secure job. Being the obedient son, Yogesh did just this. After completing his degree in Agriculture, he graduated with a diploma in organic farming, and in 2006 began working at a Rajasthan-based company where he was making Rs 8,000 monthly. However, despite working for 4 years, his salary was only Rs 12,000 monthly, which frustrated Yogesh and in 2010 he decided to chase his dream of starting an organic farming business.
Yogesh shares that keeping people safe from diseases like diabetes, cancer is also why he got into organic farming, “People in the West have gone organic years ago but it’s still catching up in India. However, recently especially since the coronavirus pandemic people are realising the importance of organic food.”
Yogesh’s idea aimed to help farmers grow organic food which he would buy from them and then sell them to big companies that are looking to buy organic food at premium prices. So he got together with seven farmers and started the organic farming of cumin. However, because of his lack of practical experience, Yogesh did not give the soils in the farms enough time to completely rid them of chemicals and this led to the first crop being worthless.
He shares, “Farms need three years to reduce the use of chemicals and gradually increase the use of organic fertilizers. We rushed the process which led to failure and several farmers lost faith in me.”
Yogesh was ever-resilient and kept at his dream, he learned from his mistakes and figured out the perfect methods to grow organic produce. And three years later, his grit and determination finally paid off. With little to no savings of his own, Yogesh asked his friends to help him and managed to invest Rs 1.5 lakh in his idea.
He reminisces about his struggle, “I used to eat just twice a day- breakfast and dinner as I would be on field all day explaining the importance of organic farming to farmers and had no time to eat in between. But I always knew that my hard work would pay off.”
Soon Yogesh’s philanthropic idea of helping farmers grow organic produce and sell their crops at premium prices in India and abroad made headlines across news platforms. And as soon as people realized that Yogesh was doing great things many farmers began approaching him. Yogesh reveals how his father went from disapproving of his choices to giving him advice, “Initially my father was disappointed that I had left a stable life to do business but once the orders started pouring in he also began to take an interest in my work and also helped me get a loan to expand.”
From starting his business 10 years ago, Yogesh’s company, Rapid Organic now provides almost 3,000 farmers with seeds, technology, organic fertilizers and more, to help them grow organic produce, even loaning to those who have financial issues and then balancing the costs when he buys crops from them. He has also helped 10,000 farmers get organic farming certifications. The company now buys 2-3 thousand tons of organic crops from farmers and sells them in India and abroad, including Japan, United States, Europe and others.
What started with a Rs 1.5 lakh investment and just Yogesh, has now become a growing Rs 50 crore turnover business with over 50 employees. Moreover, his wife Aruna Joshi also works as a director with him and even won an award for women entrepreneurship from Minister of Textiles Smriti Irani for her initiative of working with women farmers. Yogesh has also won several awards including one from Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport and Highways, and the Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. He now wants to start producing organic superfoods in every state as each state has its own unique crop and he then wants to sell this produce across the world.
Yogesh concludes the conversation by sharing the formula to success, saying, “A thousand days of hard work in any profession will definitely bring you long-term success. Just because one doesn’t get instant success doesn’t mean they should keep jumping from one profession to another.”
This story is submitted by Bilal Khan and edited by Alfea Shaikh.
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