Tulsi farming, Profit, Support and Marketing

Tulsi is an easy crop to cultivate. There is very little effort involved and there is even lesser maintenance. Most Tulsi cultivation is organic. This means no fertilizers or pest control. The only bit of work is weeding. Cultivation, unfortunately, does not end there. Harvesting tulsi is a time-consuming process and considering the price tulsi cultivators get for their effort, the amount is very minimal. Consider this. It takes more than 4 hours to harvest one-kilo tulsi leaves. The price for one kilo of leaves could range from anywhere between 75 rs to 150 rs. A person can pick around 3 kilos on the higher side per day. What they pick is almost nearly their daily wages and sometimes even lesser. 

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Considering this basic accounting alone, most farmers should refrain from tulsi cultivation. But there are ways to profit from any farm produce. Selling raw tulsi leaves or dried tulsi leaves, while may not be profitable, creating a product that can be used, adds value tremendously. Tulis pills are a preferred product by people who are looking for holistic remedies. Tulsi tea is gaining popularity and other mixtures with tulsi lemon, tulsi ginger is increasing in demand too. While raw tulsi sells for an average of 100 rs per Kilo, Converted to tea, 100 grams of tulsi leaves would cost you 100 rs. That’s 1000 Rs per kilo, 10 times what most farmers pay for the same amount of tulsi.

What’s more interesting is the fact that tulsi farming has minimal requirements. Very few pests attack the plant and the soil conditions are not of concern. Interestingly, the plant will grow well in partial shade too. So if you are interested in intercropping with other plants, Tulsi is a wonderful crop to consider.

Is tulsi farming profitable? 

There is a lot of consideration to be done before you start with tulsi cultivation. The primary consideration is not the soil or the weather this time, because most parts of India will enable you to grow tulsi plants without a problem. The real consideration is the market. Where do you sell the leaves you have cultivated. Tulsi leaves are purchased only by a few vendors and companies. The open market will not purchase fresh leaves or dry leaves and only medicinal manufacturing companies, especially holistic medicine companies will purchase tulsi apart from the new trending herbal tea manufacturers. 

Tulsi should be grown organically to be sold to medicine manufacturers and they have special needs. While some companies prefer ram tulsi (which has green leaves) some others prefer Shyam tulsi (which has darker leaves in the shade of purple). Acquiring the right seeds and getting in touch with these companies prior to sowing is important. Even if you do not have a contract signed with these companies, be sure that you have at least 3-4companies on your list who will purchase your product when it’s ready.

Once you have this list ready, ensure that you also know all the other requirements. Do not worry about the price at the moment. The price keeps fluctuating according to the market. Other factors like how the leaves should be delivered (Dried or Fresh) and how the leaves should be dried and packed etc should be your primary concern at the moment.

Profits from Tulsi plants range anywhere between 100,000 rs to 120,000 rs per acre. The average yield per acre is 40-45 Quintal Per year. The average price per kilo is Rs.28 (dried leaves). The investment is roughly 20,000 which includes everything from labor to seeds

Consideration for Tulsi Farming

Tulsi is to be cultivated only when you have a buyer in hand. Certain products are not purchased in a mandi and are directly purchased by companies or manufacturers through agents or directly. You will have to ensure that there is someone to purchase your product when it’s ready to harvest. If you cultivate tulsi first and later try to find buyers it’s going to be stressful and often results in loss of productivity. Consider buy-back agreements, contract farming, or a direct link with the medicinal companies who require your produce. One of the few people who purchase tulsi on a buy-back agreement we found online is below with the number

Buy back agreement : Mobile: +(91)- 9193601993, 9193601992, 9193601991

How to do tulsi farming

Tulsi farming is considerably easier than most other farming. The requirements are very limited and most farmers find it easy to cultivate tulsi. There is no use of pesticides and minimal use of fertilizers. While some farmers do use urea and other chemical fertilizers, many others don’t use fertilizers at all or use compost or cow dung alone. Minimal pests attack tulsi plants and animals usually don’t like tulsi much. 

Farming tulsi also reduces weeds in the farm over a period of time.

Tulsi farming is done in raised beds. The farm is plowed 3-4 times with 2-3 tonnes of Farmyard manure or cow dung. The beds are created and require no drip irrigation. Plants are first sown in a fertile area and replanted on the 45th day. The distance from the plant to plant is 30 centimeters to 45 centimeters and the distance from row to row is 45-50 centimeters. 

Watering is done immediately after replanting and further irrigation is provided once in 15 to 20 days. The first harvest happens 90 days from replanting and every 45 to 90 days thereafter. A total of 4-5 harvests is possible in a year with each harvest yield to be around 10-12 Quintals per acre. A total yield of 40 -45 Quinatals is possible per acre in a year. 

There is no need for frequent fertilizer application and pesticides are not recommended. 

Tulsi plants take a wide range of soil conditions comfortably.

Major areas which are cultivating Tulsi

Tulsi cultivation can be done in most parts of India. Saving a few states like Kashmir and Himachal where the temperature goes very low and snowfalls are high, tulsi is a lucrative crop in almost all other parts of the country. Tulsi farming being less resource-intensive and requiring lesser water, can be done in dry areas too with limited water resources. Areas under tulsi cultivation include Gujarat, Orissa, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh, Assam Bihar, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. Tulsi, though a profitable crop, is advised that it be planted in areas where farming of other crops is not feasible. For instance, Tulsi farming is excellent as an intercrop in mango fields and moringa farms. They are a great intercrop for almost all plantation crops. This enables usage of the area and controls pests at the same time. Tulsi is a pest repellent in itself and most pests avoid coming in contact with tulsi. This adds an income to the plantation crop area while simultaneously reducing pests in the orchards.

Other areas where tulsi can be planted includes dry area with minimal water resources or even areas which are not used, like patches of land where weeds are in excess and usually not controlled or maintained. Though tulsi is not the best hedging crop, it can also be used as a hedge if maintained properly.No animals will destroy the crop and will remain far from tulsi plantations due to its smell and pungent taste.

Caveats of Tulsi farming.

Tulsi is not a product that is purchased in mandis. Unlike vegetables and fruits, the customer base for tulsi and most medicinal plants is very limited. The few customers who will be interested in purchasing tulsi are manufacturers of medicinal products and cosmetics. Your first step to cultivating tulsi should be to contact these manufacturers for various reasons. First, find if there is a requirement for tulsi or if they are already having sufficient products throughout the season. Most manufacturers will tell you that they will require a constant flow of tulsi. Find at least 2-3 manufacturers who will purchase your product.

Second, you should find out the type of tulsi they require, The products they manufacture will require a certain variety of tulsi based on their requirements. For medicinal products, Shyam tulsi has a different set of properties to ram tulsi and the manufacturer will be specific about the type of tulsi they require. Oil too has certain specifications of tulsi and so does any cosmetic product. Ask the manufacturers for the right tulsi variety and seeds.

Finally, if possible, try to build up a contract with them, to ensure that they will purchase the tulsi products when they are ready. 

Tulsi farming profit per acre and marketing

While there are people who claim to have earned up to 6 lakhs per year from tulsi farming, the most reasonable figure of income in tulsi farms is a lot lesser. While we do not want to contest their claims, reality shows that most farmers will earn up to a lakh from an acre of tulsi farming when tulsi is the sole crop on the farm and not intercropped. Let’s look at some of the figures to understand the profit and all that is involved.

Expenses

Land preparation15000 
Seeds1000
Nursery settings5000
Replantation Cost10000
Weeding Twice15000
Harvesting cost15000
Drying cost5000
Total expense71000

Income

10 Quintals Per cutting28000 Rs
4 Cuttings Per year112000. Rs
Net Profit41000. Rs

While tulsi farming may seem very profitable and there are people claiming to have a lot more income than what we project here, we really do not understand how this profit occurs to date. Though tulsi farming is not a business of loss, it surely is not a very lucrative crop as projected by many farmers and government institutes unless the price for the leaves is valued higher.

As you may have noticed, we have only spent 15,000 rupees on weeding one acre of land twice, which is far lesser than what you would spend if you would have cultivated vegetables or other cash crops. The cost of harvesting tulsi 4 times is also set at 15,000, which is also very less.  Even with minimal expenditures, it’s not really one of the best crops to earn lakhs of rupees. 

The only feasible way to make tulsi as a profitable crop is to practice farming tulsi in either barren wasteland to add income from barren plots or do intercropping with other major crops in orchards.