Can you tell us about yourself? I am Ramanath Balkrishna Sukhaye from village Jamgaon of Khanapur taluka of Belgaum district in Karnataka. My village is remotely located in the forest and the nearest bus stop is 4 kms away. Though the village has school up to 7th standard, for further education students need to walk up to 8 kms through the forest. Heavy winds and extremely high rainfall during monsoon cuts the road, electricity and telephone connectivity to the village for the entire season. What about your family & education? Here I stay with my parents and they are mainly into farming. My younger brother is a mason and mostly works in the neighboring states of Goa and Maharashtra. My younger sister got married last year. I have done my schooling up to 10th standard and as per local traditions, unwillingly stopped education and started doing odd jobs to support my family financially. Almost for 6 years I was working as a laborer cum mason in cities of Goa and Maharashtra. What is that made you think about returning to the village? I was okay with my job but shortly realized, most of the time in a year I was staying alone in the city, away from my family. Moreover, major part of my earnings were spent on fulfilling basic needs in the city and I was left with hardly any savings to support my family back home. Hence started thinking of going back to my village but was not sure what kind of job I would get there… Was there any trigger that made you return to the village? Yes, it was the moment when I heard our prime minister Mr. Narendra Modiji in one of his interview with ZEE news explaining – selling “pakoda” is also an employment that can fetch you decent earning. That one interview completely changed my thought process where earlier for me job means migrating to big cities and working for fixed salaries. And with this new confidence I decided to go back to my village. How you selected your project? I came back to the village and was thinking of starting something on my own. That’s when I met with the people from organization called Ekal. In fact, I knew them in the past when they were promoting vermicomposting to the farmers in our area. Unfortunately, those days I was ignorant about the importance of vermicompost but …. …this time when they explained me the scope and opportunity for the vermicompost produced from cow dung of desi cows and offered to purchase an entire produce, I decided to start this as my first project. Fortunately, one gentleman from my village helped me with land and finances and that’s how my vermicompost project was started. Can you tell us about your project? I have built this project of 15 tons (in 2-3 months) capacity in approximately 3000 sq. ft. of a land with the initial investment of Rs. 60000 to 70000. I have intentionally used locally available material wherever possible to reduce the initial cost of the project. I purchase cow dung of desi cows from the local farmers that costs me additional Rs. 25000 to 30000 per batch. I also purchase earthworms from the nearby Dharwad agricultural university as and when needed. Overall my production cost of vermicompost is Rs. 2 per kg and I sell it for approximately Rs. 8 per kg in 2 to 3 months. Can you show us sample of your vermicompost? Here is a sample of the vermicompost …… What is your path forward for vermicompost project? At present, in addition to our Ekal organisation, local farmers, nurseries and organic shops are my customers… …now I am planning to expand customer base by selling vermicompost on internet through companies like Amazon. Any other projects in pipeline? I am also planning to start other agriculture related projects such as fish farming, bee keeping and… …vegetable/fruit production using zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) with an additional effort to make actual end user as my customer. How you compare your income a year before, today and in future? When I was doing job in city my monthly income was around Rs. 8000 to 9000. Now through this vermicompost project I earn profit up to Rs. 25000 to 30000 per month. I am confident that by end of the next year and with the implementation of those additional projects my profit can go up to Rs. 1,00,000 per month. Most importantly I stay with my family and cost of my living has reduced drastically that helps me to make some savings for my future. What is your takeaway from this experience? A false belief among youngsters like me is that a job in the city is like life settled. But I have realized that city or village doesn’t matter. What matters is, hard work and honesty that you put in your work. In fact staying with your family with your natural lifestyle increases your saving.