Pigs changed the fortunes of a rickshaw-puller who is now a crorepati!
He started work as a labourer at age 12, earning a few bucks a day, and today, at 51, his piggery business has touched a turnover of Rs 1 crore. Mohar Sahu’s story is a testimony of how not giving up on yourself always pays in the end.
He has a large two-storey house in Ranchi now but it wasn’t like this always. Growing up, life was hard. Born in 1966, at the Pundag area in Ranchi, Sahu’s family was hard-pressed to find two square meals a day, with his father plying rickshaws and his mother selling puffed rice from home.
There were four children to feed, and in those days his father would make hardly Rs 10 a day. “The conditions were miserable,” says Sahu, “my mother managed to contribute Rs 2 or 3 a day to the family income.”
In such circumstances, education, he says, was a distant dream: “When I was five, my father sent me to the free government school, Rajkiya Madhya Vidyalaya. I somehow managed to study till class seven but it was getting increasingly difficult for my father to arrange for school uniform and the daily expenses of studying.”
At age 12, he dropped out of school and decided to share the responsibility of running home. Of his three siblings, his elder brother Sahria had by then already begun work as a labourer in Ranchi.
“I started working as a labourer too, in my area, transporting goods. I earned around Rs 2-3 a day – it seems shocking now but in those days this was the norm.”
At an age when children play with toys, Sahu used to pick up heavy jute bags of wheat, grains, or rice, and transport them on his shoulders.
“It was a back-breaking job and often I groaned in pain during the night,” he recalls, “but I had no other alternative as I too wanted to be an earning member of the family.”
After working as a labourer for nearly six months, he managed to get a job of a ricksha munshi (supervisor) through his father’s contacts.
His job was to keep an account of the total rickshaws given out on rent and the daily income from them, for the owners. Though his income went up only by a fraction, to Rs 75 per month, at least this was a much better job.
“I was also promised a hike of Rs 30 every year!” he laughs, as he remembers his days of struggle.
Life changed when he got married.
In 1984, the year he got married, he quit the job for a better opportunity as he now had greater responsibility. Now he also had his wife and future children to think of.
Sahu found a job as a salesman in a utensils store in Ranchi, at a monthly salary of Rs 400. It was on this job that the seed of doing something of his own began to germinate in his mind.
“My mind started sharpening and over three years I learnt the tricks of salesmanship,” recalls Sahu, who quit in 1987 and ventured out on his own.
It was a tough decision – a big chance to take. “I had my parents, wife, and two younger siblings to look after, I could hardly afford to sit idle even for a single day,” he says.
While he waited for his business to take shape, he started plying rickshaws and worked hard to earn Rs 40 a day. His wife, Fuleshwari Devi, began to sell puffed rice to assist the family income. She earned Rs 8-10 per day.
He went to his in-laws who worked in the piggery business and gained their counsel and advice. During this time he also went to Dr Sant Kumar Singh, now retired dean cum principal of Ranchi Veterinary College, Birsa Agricultural University, whom he had met in the early 1980s.
“He took training on piggery for 10 days in the 1980s,” remembers Dr Singh, “when the government was trying to promote small and marginal businessmen. It was mostly about taking care of pigs, and how to give injections and treat them.
“He took a deep interest in it and was really hard working. Even now, he comes to me for suggestions on piggery whenever required, especially on treating swine flu.”
Sahu then invested Rs 3,000 from his savings and bought 10 small pigs. “I reared them for a year in the 700 sq ft space behind my house,” he recalls, “which was my ancestral land.”
The biggest problem was food. This is where Sahu showed his genius. He approached big and small eateries in the city and requested them for all their wasted and leftover food.
“They were happy to get rid of it as no cost,” says Sahu. “The neighbours taunted me and often quarrelled over the dirt and filth due to the pigs, but I ignored them and continued,” he says.
He sold the animals to wholesalers and retails after a year and managed to earn Rs 10,000 from them. “I couldn’t believe my income,” he says, “it was like a jackpot for an almost illiterate man.” He decided he was on the right path and purchased more pigs from his profit.
In the next two years, his pig count rose to 45 with an annual turnover of Rs 1 lakh by 1990. “The flesh of the pig is in huge demand in our state and also in the neighbouring states of Bihar and Assam,” he explains.
His business began to grow and, in 1999, he purchased 10 kottahs (roughly 7,000 sq ft) of land in his village at a price of Rs 64,000. The pig count rose to over a hundred and his business now had an annual turnover of around Rs 10 lakh. In the same year he named his piggery Mohar Sahu Pig Breeding Centre.
Traders from neighbouring states began to approach him for the animals. “I had made a reputation for good quality pigs,” he explains the popularity.
He was felicitated by two former Chief Ministers of Jharkhand, Madhu Koda and Arjun Munde, in 2006 and 2007, for keeping the best breed of pigs. By then, the pig count was 350 and the turnover Rs 20 lakh. This fiscal year, it touched Rs 1 crore.
Despite becoming a millionaire, Sahu’s routine remains the same. “I still wake up at 4 in the morning and go to collect the leftover food from eateries,” he says. Except, now he drives the auto rickshaw he purchased in 2004.
He now spends more time helping young people who approach him, and trains them informally. He has four daughters and a son but does not want them to enter his trade. Even though he made a success of it, he feels people don’t respect the piggery business.
The astounding success of Mohar Sahu once again proves that nothing is impossible for a person who believes in himself. “I never gave up,” he says, simply, when I ask him the reason behind his success.
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