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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Madhu Kargund: The farmer’s son who is earning lakhs through coconut-based products

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His agricultural family motivated engineer Madhu Kargund to quit his job and create Tengin, a firm that employs zero-waste farming to transform coconuts into products, earning thousands.

Coconut trees, found in most South Indian states, purify the air and supply fiber. These fruits’ oil moisturizes skin and hair, makes meals sweeter, and quenches thirst.

The finest feature about coconuts is their completeness. From shell to husk, everything has a purpose. A Bengaluru business helps women and farmers while making Rs 4 lakh each month.

Madhu Kargund, 30, creates virgin coconut oil, barfi, soaps, candles, sugar, chips, crockery shells, coir dish scrubbers, and more with his business Tengin, which means coconut in Kannada.

Madhu adds, “I am a farmer’s son,” and he has witnessed farmers suffer from crop failure, fewer revenues, and climate change. I am aiming to assist them generate more money by turning coconuts into cash flow.”

Profiting from coconut farming

Madhu grew up in Arsikere, Hassan, Karnataka, assisting his father in the fields.

Growing up in a rural household, you observe the daily challenges farmers endure. Climate change and poor rain patterns make cultivating anything naturally challenging. There is no upskilling help for farmers, and market ignorance causes losses, he argues.

He discusses farmers’ issues, saying, “If I go to the village and start growing tomatoes on my field and get a good price for it, every other farmer in the village would start doing that. This imbalances demand and supply, so no one profits. Farmers lose revenues without this knowledge.”

Madhu always wanted to solve these issues, but his father wanted him to work. He says, “No farmer would want his sons to join farming because of the losses.”

After earning his Master in Computer Applications, he worked as a software developer for eight years before starting Tengin in 2018.

Even as an engineer, I worried about not completing my job. I kept thinking of ways to improve things. The easiest approach to raise income was to eliminate intermediaries and source straight from farmers for higher margin, he argues.

By 2018, Madhu knew he didn’t want a 9-to-5. Madhu knew he wanted to aid farmers by growing coconuts, which his father had grown all his life. Making quantities of virgin coconut oil while working in engineering started his business.

“I decided to throw myself completely into the business and quit my job in 2020,” he says.
Naturally sustainable and waste-free

The response to Madhu’s job resignation was disappointing.

Parents didn’t want me to farm. He wanted me to work, not farm. He says agriculture is one of the hardest occupations in the world and isn’t paid enough or respected.

Madhu was steadfast despite family opposition. He invented zero-budget natural farming with numerous crops to make farming in his town more profitable.

with my village, most people practiced mono-crop farming, while with the other approach, you produce numerous crops at once. You may grow areca nuts, bananas, and tomatoes between coconuts. This lets farmers grow several plants on one plot, he argues.

Madhu enlisted rural women SHGs to create Tengin while designing it.

I joined numerous sanghas (women groups) in the countryside. They create several items and we innovate to make coconut-waste-free. He said his local farmers and certain Karnataka regions supply the coconuts.

Madhu makes the items with around 20 Karnataka and Goa farmers and almost eight SGH ladies from his community.

He says, “We buy directly from the farmers, eliminating any transportation costs and middlemen at fair prices, so they get more profit margins.”

“We innovate with our products. We started with virgin coconut oil but now make soaps, scrubs, and crockery. He claims they constructed coconut diyas for Diwali and coconut shell rakhis for Raksha Bandhan.

Coconut shells are usually thrown away, but I thought they might substitute plastic glasses and mugs. From coir, another waste product, we manufactured dishwashing scrubs. He claims they mixed leftover coconut powder with dark chocolate to form coconut rocher after extracting the oil. All the coconuts used in the process are grown naturally.

Tengin customer Vani Murthy adds, “Coconut products are so intrinsic to our culture and traditions in South India. We use coconut oil for cooking and personal care every day. Tengin is an actual brand I use. Everything they make is great, and I appreciate that they support local businesses. They release novel coconut items regularly.”

Madhu started with 150 ml of virgin oil and sold over 500 litres. The firm averages Rs 3–4 lakh monthly sales.

My goal and Tengin’s is to tell our brand’s narrative. We tell the narrative of hardworking farmers as well as their goods. I educate my consumers at flea markets about where and how my items are created. He notes that buying them helps farmers as well as the products.

In the future, Madhu intends to grow and develop additional coconut products.

 Madhu Kargund says, “We always focus on IT industries when talking about innovation or upskilling. There is little discussion about upskilling farmers and giving them new technologies. Most kids are leaving farming for better jobs, causing a migratory problem.”

Madhu hopes his product will make farming more profitable and attract young farmers.

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