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How To Start Ashwagandha Farming Business – Complete Guide

Do you want to start a commercial ashwagandha cultivation business? If yes, find here a detailed ashwagandha farming business plan for your ready reference.

Ashwagandha is a branching shrub with a normal height of 1.4 to 1.5 meters. Another popular name for Ashwagandha is a wonder herb. Because this plant has multiple medicinal properties. The scientific name of Ashwagandha is Withania Somnifera. 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 farming operations 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.

Is Ashwagandha Farming Profitable?

Ashwagandha is an excellent rejuvenating agent in Ayurveda. Generally, the roots, seeds, and leaves have 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.

Read: How to Start a Mushroom Farming Business

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

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

Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

Some of the health benefits of Ashwagandha are listed below:

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

Things to Consider in Farming Ashwagandha

  • 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 Vishwa Vidyalaya, Madhya Pradesh in India 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.

  • Jawahar Asgand-20: Dry root yield 5-6 q per hectare
  • 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 their 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 temperatures as low as 10°C.

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

Suitable Soil for Ashwagandha Farming

Ashwagandha grows well in sandy loam or light red soil with good drainage having a 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 pesticide contamination or danger of potential contamination such as from industries, busy roads, or pesticides being sprayed in neighboring localities.

Basic Steps for Ashwagandha Farming

1. Soil Preparation

In Ashwagandha, roots are the major economic part. Therefore, soil preparation plays an important role in ashwagandha cultivation. Generally, two to three plowing and disking and /or harrowing should be done before rains to bring 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 farmyard manure. And then level the field.

Read: How To Take Soil Samples For Analysis

2. 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 the line sowing method.
However, about 500-750 g seeds are sufficient for raising seedlings for the one-hectare crop.

3. Propagation and Plantation

Generally, ashwagandha propagates from seeds. So, you need to provide a nursery bed for seed sowing. However, you must sow the seeds at the right time to harvest the maximum yield of good quality produce. Early sowing may cause seedling mortality due to heavy rains.

The optimum time for sowing is the 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 recent times and have been reported to yield a higher quantity of roots and also help in performing intercultural practices properly. Apply a light shower after sowing seeds to ensure good germination.

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

4. 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 farmyard manure, vermicompost, green manure, etc. However, you can apply fertilizer with organic manure to harvest a good yield.

5. Irrigation

Excessive rainfall or water is harmful to 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.

6. Plant Protection

The 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 the management of insect pests and diseases in medicinal crops.

7. Harvesting & Yield

You can notice an indication of the maturity of the crops by drying lower leaves and yellow-red berries. Flowering and bearing of fruits start from December onwards. You can harvest roots by digging from 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Ashwagandha farming?

Ashwagandha farming involves the cultivation of the Ashwagandha plant, also known as Withania somnifera or Indian ginseng. It is a traditional medicinal herb with various health benefits and is cultivated for its roots, which are used in herbal remedies and supplements.

What are the ideal growing conditions for Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha thrives in warm climates with well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. It can be grown in a variety of soil types but prefers sandy loam or sandy clay soil with a pH range of 7 to 8.

How long does it take to grow Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is a perennial plant that takes about 150 to 180 days to reach maturity. The roots are usually harvested after 6 to 7 months of growth, while the leaves and berries can be harvested earlier.

What are the key steps involved in Ashwagandha cultivation?

The key steps in Ashwagandha cultivation include land preparation, seed sowing or transplanting, irrigation, weed control, pest and disease management, and harvesting. Proper soil preparation and irrigation are essential for optimal growth.

What are the common pests and diseases affecting Ashwagandha plants?

Common pests affecting Ashwagandha plants include aphids, whiteflies, and leaf-eating caterpillars, while diseases like root rot and leaf spot can also occur. Integrated pest management (IPM) practices and disease-resistant varieties can help manage these issues.

How is Ashwagandha harvested and processed?

Ashwagandha roots are typically harvested by uprooting the entire plant and then washing, drying, and processing the roots for use in herbal products. Leaves and berries can also be harvested for medicinal purposes.

What are the potential markets for Ashwagandha products?

The market for Ashwagandha products includes pharmaceutical companies, herbal supplement manufacturers, Ayurvedic medicine practitioners, and health food stores. There is also a growing demand for Ashwagandha in the cosmetics and personal care industries.

Are there any government schemes or subsidies available for Ashwagandha farming?

In some countries, government agricultural departments or agencies may offer subsidies, loans, or technical assistance for medicinal plant cultivation, including Ashwagandha. Farmers can inquire with local agricultural authorities for information on available support programs.

What are the challenges associated with Ashwagandha farming?

Challenges in Ashwagandha farming include market volatility, competition from imported products, fluctuating prices, and the need for sustainable cultivation practices to maintain soil health and biodiversity.