Avinash Salunkhe (47) grew up in Ahmednagar in a landless agricultural family. After his formal studies in agriculture, he joined a pesticide-manufacturing company based at Pune. In the year 2002, Avinash joined a two-month residential training program under Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business Centres scheme at the Agricultural College, Pune.
After training, Avinash laid the foundation of Barefooter School and registered his agricultural consultancy firm as ‘Sheti Dawakhana’. With a very small capital, he also started manufacturing biocontrol agents. By providing dedicated and quality services, he slowly expanded his business by providing services in pesticide spray, pest and disease diagnostic services, manufacturing and sale of bio-control agents, bio-pesticides, pheromone attractants, services in fumigation with restricted pesticide etc.
Today, Avinash is the owner of two companies and three proprietary firms and is accredited as ‘International Fumigator’. To serve the farming community in a more concerted way, Avinash devotes a lot of his time to the Barefooter School for farmers. Any farmer wanting to expand and diversify his operations, rural youth aiming to make agriculture their profession and rural women wishing to start enterprises can all reach Avinash’s Barefooter School without any eligibility criteria.
Providing guidance courses and demonstrations, providing farmers and all other interested persons with information on various aspects of agriculture and related issues, the Barefooter School is open ve days a week teaching need-based training courses. Horticulture, veterinary, pest-management, agri-engineering, pest, and diseases, medicinal plants, agro-tourism, hydroponic and allied business are some of the subjects covered here. A certificate of recognition to the small course is given independently. The fully equipped and computerized school has trained more than 500 farmers and helped establish their enterprises. Avinash’s message to budding agripreneurs is, “You can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets”.