How To Start Commercial Ashwagandha Cultivation Business

Do you want to start commercial ashwagandha cultivation business? Find here ashwagandha farming business plan for your ready reference. 

Ashwagandha is a branching shrub with a normal height of 1.4 to 1.5 meters. The another popular name of ashwagandha is wonder herb. Because this plant has multiple medicinal properties. The scientific name of ashwagandha is Withania Somnifera. And it belongs to the Solanaceae family.

Ashwagandha is a hardy and drought tolerant plant. In addition, it grows well in dry and subtropical regions. From the commercial point of view, it is an easy plant to grow. Additionally, it demands low capital investment in the farming operation and ensures good profit margins.

Ashwagandha naturally occurs in all areas of South Asia up to a moderate altitude. However, it is also native to the Middle East and North Africa. In India, major ashwagandha producing states are Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. However, Madhya Pradesh holds the first position in ashwagandha cultivation.

Economic Importance Of Ashwagandha Farming

Ashwagandha is an excellent rejuvenating agent in Ayurveda. Generally, the roots, seeds and leaves have the commercial importance in Ayurvedic and Unani medicines. Ashwagandha was an important drug in ancient Ayurvedic literature. Other popular names are Indian ginseng and Indian Winter Cherry. You can expect a great financial return from ashwagandha cultivation.

The demand for ashwagandha is growing in the domestic and international market. Nowadays, people are looking for natural solutions for stress and depressions. And it boosts the demand for this herb in the various industries including cosmetics, pharmaceutical etc.

Additionally, this plant demands comparatively small inputs. And you can start the farming with a small piece of land also. Additionally, the fruits and roots have good export potential from India.

Health Benefits Of Ashwagandha

  • First of all, ashwagandha boosts the immune system.
  • It helps in lowering cholesterol.
  • Additionally, it helps in lowering blood sugar level.
  • Ashwagandha stimulates collagen and promoted wound healing.
  • Stress affects ageing. And ashwagandha helps to reduce stress considerably.
  • Ashwagandha helps in reducing swelling and pains.
  • It boosts Testosterone and increase fertility in men
  • Finally, it prevents some sort of cancer cell growth.

Things To Consider In Ashwagandha Farming

  • First of all, craft an ashwagandha farming business plan according to the size of the land.
  • Prepare the financial plan carefully. Include the farming cost with marketing expenses.
  • In addition, you must have a marketing plan. Identify the market first. It is advisable to explore several marketing avenues.
  • Check the required inputs for farming. You must provide proper irrigation, fertilization and plant protection inputs.
  • Finally, according to the agroclimatic condition choose the right variety.

Best Varieties For Ashwagandha Farming

Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalay, Madhya Pradesh has released one high alkaloid variety “Jawahar”. It is short in stature and most amenable for high-density planting. Additionally, the variety yields in 180 days with a total withanolide content of 0.30% in dry roots.

  1. Jawahar Asgand-20: Dry root yield 5-6 q per hectare
  2. Jawahar Asgand-134: Dry root yield 6-8 q per hectare

Agroclimatic Condition For Ashwagandha Farming

Ashwagandha prefers full sun and fairly dry conditions and has low to moderate water needs. The
semi-tropical areas receiving 60-75 cm rainfall are suitable for its cultivation. Temperature between 20°C to 35°C is most suitable for its cultivation. However, it can tolerate a temperature range of 20°C to 38°C and even low temperature as low as 10°C.

Late winter rains are conducive for the proper development of the plant roots. The plant grows from sea level to an altitude of 1500 meter above sea level.

Suitable Soil For Ashwagandha Farming

Ashwagandha grows well in sandy loam or light red soil with good drainage having pH in the range of 7.5 to 8.0. Black or heavy soils having good drainage are also suitable for ashwagandha cultivation. It is advisable to test the soil before plantation. You must avoid inherent pesticides contamination or danger of potential contamination such as from industries, busy roads or pesticides being sprayed in neighbouring.

Basic Steps For Ashwagandha Farming

Soil Preparation

In Ashwagandha, roots are the major economic part. Therefore, soil preparation plays an important role in ashwagandha cultivation. Generally, two to three ploughing and disking and /or harrowing should be done before rains for bringing the soil to a fine tilth. Nourish the soil with plenty of organic matter at the
time of land preparation. Additionally, you will need to apply and mix the farm yard manure. And then level the field.

Seed rate

A seed rate of 10-12 kg is sufficient for the sowing of the one-hectare crop. Sowing should be done at the right spacing at 30 cm or 15 cm row to row and 10 cm plant to plant spacing in line sowing method.
However, about 500-750 g seeds are sufficient for raising seedlings for the one-hectare crop.

Propagation & Plantation

Generally, ashwagandha propagates from seeds. So, you need to provide the nursery bed for seed sowing. However, you must sow the seeds at right time to harvest maximum yield of good quality produce. Early sowing may cause seedling mortality due to heavy rains. The optimum time for sowing is 2nd to 3rd week of August. Broadcasting with higher seed rates at 20-35 kg per hectare is the most common method for the sowing of ashwagandha in rain-fed areas. However, line sowing and raised bed sowing are also gaining importance in the recent time and have been reported to yield the higher quantity of roots and also helps in performing intercultural practices properly. Apply a light shower after sowing of seeds to ensure good germination.

You can transplant the seedling of 25-35 days old can in the main field at the recommended spacing. In addition, you can sow the seedlings in lines at 1-3 cm deep in the soil.

Manuring

Generally, excess or deficit of any essential plant nutrient may decline the production as well as the quality of the produce. Therefore, you will need to add manure according to the soil testing reports. You can use organic manures like farm yard manure, vermicompost, green manure etc. However, you can apply fertilizer with organic manure to harvest good yield.

Irrigation

Excessive rainfall or water is harmful for this crop. Light shower after transplantation ensures the better establishment of seedlings. However, you can provide life-saving irrigation if required. Under irrigated conditions, the crop can be irrigated once in 15 days for better results and higher root yield.

Plant Protection

Use of proper cultural methods (companion crops, trap crops, crop rotation, adjusting sowing time and spacing, balanced plant nutrition and timely irrigation), biological methods (parasites, predators and biopesticides) and mechanical methods (light-traps) are essential for management of insect pests and diseases in medicinal crops.

Related: 10 Most Profitable Essential Oil Extraction Business Ideas

Harvesting & Yield

You can notice indication for the maturity of the crops by drying of lower leaves and yellow-red berries. Flowering and bearing of fruits start from December onwards. You can harvest roots by digging in January to March i.e. 150 to 180 days after sowing. Ashwagandha gives 3 to 5 q of dry roots and 50 to 75 kg of seeds/ha in well-managed fields. The dry root yield goes up to 6.5 to 7.0 q /ha under scientific crop management. However, the alkaloid percentage in roots ranges from 0.13 to 0.31%.

Postharvest processing is usually the most critical stage in determining the end quality of the product. You must prevent the harvested produce from any contamination, degradation and/ or damage at any stage of processing.