Back in 2003, A.K. Srinivasmurthy, farmer from Mrugavadhe village in Tirthahalli taluk, was bedridden owing to arthritis. He never imagined that his health problem that kept him in bed for three years would turn out to be boon, transforming him into a successful agricultural entrepreneur.
When all forms of treatment had failed, he started consuming a juice prepared from Noni fruit (Indian mulberry), as suggested by a local Ayurveda practitioner. “Within three months, I could notice a positive improvement in my health. I returned to normal duties within a short span of time,” he said.
Ambuja, his wife, would prepare the Noni juice by procuring the fruit from forest-dwellers near Gokarna in Sirsi district. When the fruit juice had a positive effect on his health, he started spreading the word on the advantages of the Noni juice that helps mitigate ailments such as arthritis, piles, constipation and diabetes. Soon, people from faraway began visiting his house to take suggestions on health-related issues.
Soon Mr. Srinivasmurthy decided to cultivate the Noni fruit on two acres of land near Raminakoppa village. He invested nearly Rs. 20,000 per acre, and he harvested the fruit after 18 months of planting the sapling.
Cultivating the fruit proved lucrative. According to Mr. Srinivasmurthy, he planted 300 saplings on each acre of land. And the average annual yield was around 24 tonnes an acre. The market price of Noni is about Rs. 20 a kg., and got an annual return of about Rs. 4.8 lakh an acre.
Noni is not a water-intensive crop and can be cultivated without using chemicals. Pest and fungal attacks, if any, can be managed with the use of Trichoderma. Green leaf manure and cow dung can be mixed in the soil to increase fertility. Noni is well-suited for all types of climate in India, he added.
Mr. Srinivasmurthy established a state-of-the-art Noni juice production unit on his land at Raminakoppa in 2009. The fruit is boiled for some time in water, purified through the reverse osmosis process. The concoction is filtered and bottled. Noni fruit is bitter in taste and its smell is pungent. De-bittering is done by adding the powder of Stevia leaves to it. In addition, the juice of Garcinia Cambogia fruit, locally known as Murugaluhuli, is mixed in the concoction to obscure the pungent smell.
Mr. Srinivasmurthy also established a firm titled Val You Products for marketing Noni products. Three different types of juices prepared from Noni are sold under the brand name Amrit Noni.
The Department of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) has accorded Good Manufacturing Practitioner (GMP) tag to Amrith Noni. The product has also got AGMARK certification.
Mr. Srinivasmurthy is now apprising farmers in the vicinity of the benefits of Noni cultivation. Six farmers with a total land holding of 25 acres have entered into an agreement with him to supply Noni fruit for preparing the juice continuously.
He has provided Noni saplings developed in his nursery to these farmers and also provides technical advice on its cultivation.Veerendra P.M.