As a farmer, he has been through the best and worst of times over the years. But what made Mackal Joseph, 56, of Annakkara in Idukki, Kerala stay afloat amidst pandemic and a struggling economy is that he diversified his business to suit the changing times. An SSLC pass, Mackal Joseph has managed to defy the odds and maintain a successful farm and homestay business in the last few years.
“I inherited the farm from my father and have been into farming right from the age of 18. Though the farm was primarily a coffee plantation, I recognised the need to diversify in order to remain profitable,” Mackal Joseph told “Open Digest”.
In 2014, he opened a small bed and breakfast on the property offering visitors a chance to experience the beauty of his farm and learn about sustainable agriculture practices. He used to maintain his farm beautifully planting rare varieties of flowers and plants so that the visitors could enjoy the beauty. The venture was an immediate success and soon his homestay started receiving more guests.
Though he wasn’t that tech savvy, he learned how to use third party digital platforms for getting online bookings for his home stay. “I started small, but now I have a ten room facility. We provide home cooked food to our guests who can also enjoy farming activities,” Mackal Joseph said.
When the tourism industry was hit hard due to Covid, he shifted his focus to farming and started planting cardamom. He also saw business in providing accommodation at his homestay to visitors who come to nearby Marian Retreat Centre. For Mackal Joseph, the key to success has been perseverance and a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances. “We have been able to survive a pandemic and intense competition because we deliver quality services and are genuine in our work,” he added.