As soon as we hear the word business, often the image of a male businessman first emerges in our mind. But, today we are going to introduce you to a business woman whose work has also been appreciated by the Prime Minister of the country, Narendra Modi in his show ‘Mann Ki Baat’.
Vermicompost (earthworm compost) is made by ancient methods in Sana Khan’s ‘SJ Organics’ company, based in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. Sana was in her fourth year of B.Tech when she started work on a vermicomposting project in her college. From there, her interest grew. Later, she started her business in vermicomposting.
Actually, Sana wanted to become a doctor since childhood. But, her future was ready to take her in some other direction. She could not succeed in the medical entrance examination. She then enrolled in the IMS Engineering College in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. During the fourth year of B.Tech, she was to work on a vermicomposting project. But, they had no idea about how this was done.
As Sana Khan started seeing the benefits of this method, her interest started growing more. He realized that farmers use it at a very limited level. She decided that she would implement her project in the field. Sana says that while working on the project, she thought that this project should be implemented on a large scale. She says, “I started growing earthworms and started marketing manure made from it.”
Vermicomposting is a process of preparing good manure using earthworms. Biomass is the food of earthworms and the soil extracted by them is called ‘Worm Cast’. It is rich in nutrients and for this reason, it is also called ‘black-gold’. Earthworms live up to three years and breed rapidly, making this process sustainable and inexpensive for business. In addition to its increasing importance as a core part of the organic farming system, vermicomposting is also considered a clean, sustainable and zero waste method. Because germs help earthworms extensively in destroying waste.
Sana says, “We have intervened in the natural system, using chemical fertilizers and pesticides that have a negative impact on our health.” Organic produce maintains the natural quality of things and does not allow spoilage. This is not only good for our health but also maintains the fertility of the land. ”
Initially, when Sana decided to start vermicomposting, she faced many challenges. Sana tells her family about her plan. The family was against Sana’s talk, as no one in her family was associated with agriculture and neither did Sana have any formal training. Sana’s mother convinces her that she should work in a multinational company. But Sana had taken her decision. Sana eventually gets the support of her father, who is a tailor by profession, and her brother.
Sana says, “My father told me that if I want to start my business, I should try and see how far it can go in a year or two.” My father always wanted me to do the work that I like, then whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. ”
In 2014, at the age of 23, Sana Khan started SJ Organics with the help of her brother Junaid Khan. Junaid invested money in her business. Initially, when Sana started the business, he directly tied up with the dairy owners for vermicomposting. So that the waste in their dairy can be used directly. But this business model failed. Sana then hired contractors who transport dairy and biodegradable household waste from Ghaziabad and Meerut to the Government Inter College (where she is running a vermicomposting site). This waste is immediately fed to the red earthworms. These are special types of earthworms, which are very efficient and Sana Khan uses them for vermicomposting. The entire process of converting organic matter into vermicompost takes about a month and a half.
After this, the compost is filtered and then cow urine is added to it, which acts as a natural pesticide and fertilizer. To meet certified standards, each batch of vermicompost is lab tested and then packaged. They are then marketed. Vermicompost is purchased by farmers, retail shops and nurseries. Farmers sometimes bring soil reports when needed and vermicompost is enriched with additional nutrients according to soil requirements.
By 2015, Sana started making profits and started working on increasing it. By 2020, the company received 500 tonnes of waste and produced 150 tonnes of vermicompost per month with an annual turnover of Rs 1 crore. Today, Sana Khan handles production, while her brother Junaid and husband Syed Akram Raza market the business.
Vermicompost to other parts of India
Talking about the initial challenges, Sana says, “I had to travel to villages to train farmers about organic farming methods. But then people often did not take me seriously. ”
In the year 2018, Sana’s work was mentioned by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in ‘Mann Ki Baat’, as a woman entrepreneur who has taken a permanent initiative to help farmers.
Sana says, “In the 41st episode of Mann Ki Baat, PM played a video, in which I and ‘SJ Organics’ explained how to vermicompost is made. Now farmers take me seriously and are interested in adopting organic farming methods. ”
For vermicomposting at SJ Organics, training and consulting services are also provided for the installation of low cost infrastructure. Sana has also established a range of employment opportunities. The company has 10 permanent employees and other daily wage workers are also employed. Altogether Sanaa’s company employs about 30 people.
Sana says, “We directly help in increasing employment. Because, we hire contractors, who employ laborers to help transport and transport waste. In addition, our training programs help entrepreneurs to start their own ventures. Which will further create employment opportunities for the people across the country. ”
Apart from creating employment opportunities, SJ Organics has also helped popularize vermicomposting. 104 schools in Meerut have set up vermicomposting sites (places) in consultation with SJ Organics. Sana hopes that by sharing her knowledge about vermicomposting, she can help popularize organic farming methods, not only in Uttar Pradesh but across India.
Talking about her economic plans for the future, Sana Khan says that he has recently bought an acre of land in Abdullapur, on the outskirts of Meerut, where she is looking to expand production and develop new products like Vermi Wash. Plans to produce.
Finally, giving a message to women entrepreneurs, Sana says, “There is a myth that women can only do domestic work.” Women should not hesitate to enter the agricultural industry. There are a lot of opportunities in this area. Women can achieve desired success. If our women actively enter the agricultural sector, it will be a boon for our economy. ”