When it comes to land cultivation, the general assumption is the larger the size of the cultivated land, the better the prospects for higher income. However, a homemaker from Kerala’s Ernakulam district is challenging this notion. “I earn a good income cultivating ornamental plants from mere 3-cent land on my terrace,” Sumi Shyamraj tells The Better India.
“During the initial days of lockdown, I had no plans to start a new business selling ornamental plants. But as the shop where my husband worked was closed due to lockdown, the idea of selling plants online came to mind,” she says.
Sumi has rare varieties of plants imported from Thailand, collected from her friends, that she grows in her terrace garden. It was from one of these ornamental plants, called the Episcia, that completely turned this homemaker’s life around.
The 32-year-old recalls, “I still remember the day when I shared the picture of the Episcia plant on my Facebook page — Sumi’s Garden. People from different parts of India started to enquire about the plant and many ordered the plant within a week of my post. I receive most of my orders from Uttar Pradesh, Bengaluru in Karnataka, Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu and Kerala,” she says and adds, “I still can’t believe that I earn over Rs 30,000 from my ornamental plants.”
With plants ranging from Rs 30 to Rs 1,000 in her garden, Sumi receives more orders for Episia, of which she has 80 varieties. Other than Episia, people order Begonia, Philodendron and Peperomia.
Having begun her business in March this year, Sumi says she is proud of herself. She also thanks her husband, Shyamraj, for his support. “For three months my husband didn’t have a job, but he helped me in all the ways he could. From taking care of our 2-year-old baby to helping me in my terrace garden work, he always stood with me through thick and thin,” she says and adds, “Years ago we had cows, goats and chickens at home but it didn’t fetch me success. Due to floods and other circumstances I had to sell my livestock.”
Once she receives orders via direct messages on Facebook, Sumi packs and sends the plants to the customers. “The plants will be nurtured in small cups before being sold, and I plant almost 10 new ones a day. I would also recommend my customers to buy fungus spray as it keeps the fungus away,” says the Industrial Training Institute (ITI) Civil Draughtsman graduate.
After the customer receives the plant, they are asked to keep the plant open for an hour to adjust to room temperature. Then the same can be planted and watered accordingly.
“Everybody has dreams. Mine was to do something related to plants. Now I am happy doing what I love the most. To all those women who are sitting at home, I would like to tell you that don’t underestimate yourself or your talents,” says Sumi.
She also shares that she wishes to extend her terrace garden at home with more varieties of rare plants like more varieties of Begonia, Lemon wine and creeper plants.
Even before the nation-wide lockdown, Sumi used to earn a small income from selling the vegetables she cultivated from her garden patch. “My interest in cultivation got my neighbour to give me his 30-cent land for cultivation five years ago. I have varieties of vegetables in my garden including tomato, cabbage, carrot, lady finger. Once vegetables are ripe, I post their pictures on a whatsapp group and receive orders,” says Sumi.
This young entrepreneur, who has received the Karshakasree Award from Edathala Krishi Bhavan, also tutors other homegrowers about organic farming and planting ornamental plants.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)