Rajaram Tripathi could have kept his job as a banker, given the financially and politically unstable area he grew up in – Dantewada in the district of Bastar, Madhya Pradesh. The village was notorious for its Naxalite tension. Instead, he chose to quit the job and follow his family’s footsteps. Rajaram turned to farming. Today his company helps more than 22,000 farmers across the country and is a pioneer in the export of medicinal herbs.
Rajaram and his six brothers grew up learning about farming from their father. His family, although successful, were no strangers to the hardships farmers faced. After he finished college, Rajaram joined a government bank in Bastar as a banking officer.The job helped him understand the nuances of the farming economy.
After this realisation, Rajaram wrote a letter to NABARD regarding the misplaced economics in farming. He was also called at the NABARD head office to do a presentation on the same. However, the panel agreed that what Rajaram only broached the problems, but no the solutions. So, they asked him to return with a solution.
He took on the challenge. In 1998, Rajaram quit his job and started farming to find a solution to some of the problems farmers face. As Rajaram was the eldest of the seven brothers, his parents did not want him to leave a government job. However, according to Rajaram, he was confident that farming could be a profit making sector.
While farming, Rajaram was always looking to see how the sector could be made more profitable. After much deliberation, he realised marketing was the weakest link in the agricultural industry; one in need of desperate attention.
In the first year, Rajaram failed to make a profit on his vegetables, as they were perishable items that had to be sold as soon as they were harvested. The market rate depended on the amount of vegetables that reached the market on a particular day.
So if the yield were right, the rate would be low, and the rate would be better only when there was a smaller quantity. In both ways, farmers were the ones at a loss. The first lesson that Rajaram took from this is that he needs to find a non-perishable item to grow and something which is highly in demand but not grown by many farmers.
The much-needed break came when he met Dr G.S. Jarial of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, Bhopal, who introduced him to the world of herb farming.