24 Good Businesses 2012

Medicine Man

Kautilya Phytoextracts is helping small farmers supplement their     income by growing medicinal plants and breeding rabbits

VISHAL KOUL

Upendra Das, a farmer of Bihar’s Fatehpur village, walks with a swagger. And why wouldn’t he? Das broke the record for the highest income from Artemisia annua, a medicinal plant that’s an active ingredient in anti-malarial drugs — its March-June crop fetched him₹40,000 this year. “It is a 5-feet tall plant that looks similar to arhar dal,” describes Das. It also keeps insects and animals away, which makes inter-cropping possible. In Fatehpur, farmers grew potato along with Artemisia precisely for this reason.

Das thanks Kautilya Phytoextracts for his fortune — the Patna-based company told Das and others like him that they could improve their income by cultivating medicinal plants along with their usual crops. Now, even without Das’ exceptional results, the farmers of Fatehpur routinely earn ₹20,000-30,000 instead of ₹5,000 with every harvest. Das, who owns a half-acre patch where he grew rice before he switched to Artemisia, produced 25% more on his land by cultivating medicinal plants along with the usual crops. 

Kautilya generates additional income for farmers by contract farming medicinal plants for pharmaceutical companies. It approaches them through seminars, trade fairs and advertisements, and signs buyback agreements for agreed-upon quantities that meet the quality standards and delivery schedules set by

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