AFTER INITIAL success from a mushroom farm and resort in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Khao Yai area, Poramet Sitthiwong plans to invest Bt300 million to develop a 20-rai (3.2-hectare) “health city” over the next three to five years.
“We plan to raise capital from the Market for Alternative Investment to expand our business into a ‘health city’, which will provide health foods, herbal medicines, and health check-ups for our visitors. This is designed to respond to the demand for health tourism,” he said.
Poramet, now 47, decided to withdraw from his construction business six years ago, selling all of his shares in the company to raise Bt20 million. He used this to build a new business, a mushroom farm, on his wife’s 90-rai mango and mangosteen plantation in the Khao Yai area.
Poramet said his idea was to retain the mango and mangosteen garden as an eco-farm for tourists, while he used part of the land for other business to generate income. He chose to do this by growing mushrooms on only 2 rai of land.
He started setting up his mushroom farm in mid-2010. A year later, the farm started producing lingzhi mushroom, and was able to achieve Bt2 million in sales in the second half of 2011.
Next, Poramet built a plant to process lingzhi mushrooms into products such as tea, coffee, ice cream, and personal-care items such as soap and shampoo. They boosted annual sales to Bt20 million by 2014.
That year, Poramet raised funds to build a Bt30-million resort on 6 rai of the mango plantation. His new resort combined with sales of his lingzhi-mushroom products more than doubled Khao Yai Panorama Farm Co’s revenue growth to Bt50 million in 2015, and continued posting double-digit growth to reach Bt60 million last year.
This year, the company plans to launch four new projects to celebrate its sixth anniversary on June 26, increasing its registered capital from Bt35.8 million to Bt47.8 million by selling a 20-per-cent share to the SME Development Bank for Bt12 million.
Poramet said the four new products would be ready-to-drink lingzhi tea, another ready-to-drink beverage made from seven kinds of mushrooms, lingzhi spores provided to farmers who want to grow this breed of mushroom themselves, and Wawee LingZ coffee. This will be an exclusive menu item for Wawee Coffee under a franchise arrangement.
Khao Yai Panorama Farm will also start exporting its products this year, first to Laos, followed by Vietnam. The company is also negotiating with distributors in Indonesia for possible export of its products to that country this year.
After this year’s business expansion, the company targets annual sales of Bt100 million, 10 per cent from exports, he said.
The key to the success of Poramet’s business is its quality products that match the demand of health-conscious consumers, he said.