All through his time as a gross sales engineer in Dubai, Ashwin Sawant met a consumer who used to be cultivating inexperienced fodder hydroponically for his huge cattle, consisting of over 2,000 animals. This farm left such an impact on him that he selected to go away his profitable task.
“I had by no means observed such an outstanding setup earlier than, so I began frequenting the buyer. Watching their paintings helped me achieve the boldness to copy one thing identical. In recent years, I had now not been pleased with my paintings in Dubai and used to be in search of a reason why to return again house,” the 38-year-old Mumbai resident tells The Higher India.
Making an allowance for hydroponics to be his calling, he returned to his grandparent’s village in Pune in 2011. “The concept that of hydroponics used to be very new again then. Other people would in finding it arduous even to pronounce it — some would time period it hydrophobic and ‘hydrolonic’,” he smiles.
With none farming background, Ashwin began to develop inexperienced fodder at the 500 sq toes of land in Pune. Lately, he harvests 500 pounds of inexperienced fodder day-to-day to feed the 105 cows and goats on his farm. He additionally arrange a analysis lab ‘Clinical Hydroponics’ to introduce farmers to the advantages of hydroponics farming.
Converting the sport for Indian farmers
Ashwin issues out that Indian farmers lack get entry to to inexperienced fodder as it calls for huge tracts of land and gallons of water. “In states like Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Tamil Nadu, farmers already lack enough water for irrigation. If a farmer owns 800 cows, they’ve to order 60 acres of land to develop inexperienced fodder. That implies they can not develop some other crop in this land, which isn’t economical,” he says.
“However with hydroponics, we will scale back the world and water necessities. With a one-tonne unit that may be put in in a 1,000-sq toes house, a farmer can save no less than seven acres of land. This land will also be utilised to develop different vegetation. The use of hydroponics, farmers can harvest one kilo of inexperienced fodder through utilising simply 1.5 litres of water whilst saving 99 % of the water required conventionally,” he provides.
Rather then this, the price of inexperienced fodder is an added woe. “If a farmer does now not have sufficient land to develop inexperienced fodder on their very own, they’re pressured to buy dear fodder from the marketplace. The fairway fodder grown the use of conventional strategies prices Rs 8–14 according to kg while that grown hydroponically prices Rs 2 according to kg,” he informs.
Regardless of its advantages of maintaining land and water, the principle problem of the hydroponic methodology used to be its dear value. Aswhin says a one-tonne unit prices as much as Rs 16 lakh. “Those setups require air conditioners, ozonators, and UV and RO programs. This will increase the price of the unit. I sought after to cut back its value in order that many farmers can undertake it,” he says.
After a couple of trials and mistakes, Ashwin advanced a low cost economical fashion that value Rs 3 lakh on moderate. This fashion might be replicated throughout more than a few geographies within the nation. Ashwin labored on necessary parameters like temperature and humidity required to advertise the expansion of inexperienced fodder.
To control temperature, he changed air conditioners together with his ‘fan-and-pad’ primarily based cooling device that makes use of exhaust enthusiasts to drag air thru cooling pads, which then evaporate water to chill the air.
“In summer season, the temperature shoots as much as 42 levels Celsius. To develop fodder like maize, you require a temperature of 28–30 levels Celsius; while for wheat or barley, the temperature will have to be 20-24 levels Celsius. This fan-and-pad device reduces the temperature to as much as 20 levels Celsius. It’s designed like a cooler however works like an AC,” he explains.
The use of ‘fan-and-pad’ cooling programs, dehumidifiers to care for humidity ranges, inverters, and stabilisers, Ashwin customises an optimum hydroponics infrastructure in keeping with the area’s climatic prerequisites.
Reaping the advantages of pioneering hydroponics within the area
Up to now 15 years, Ashwin has educated greater than 8,000 farmers and marketers to undertake hydroponic farming ways. He fees Rs 12,000 for a two-day onsite workshop and a year-long handholding.
“First, we teach them. Subsequent, we customize a unit design for them, and once they put in force it, we stay an in depth watch on their paintings each day thru video calls,” he says.
As an example, Pinak Suryavanshi (24) who hails from Maharashtra’s Sangli district, switched to hydroponics farming closing yr with Ashwin’s help. “I reside in a area the place we are facing intense water shortage. In a scenario like this, we needed to waste an uncalculated quantity of water to develop inexperienced fodder on a big land. However with hydroponics, we’re ready to get 500 pounds of fodder day-to-day through the use of 500 litres of water,” he tells The Higher India.
Pinak, who grows maize fodder to feed 10 buffaloes and 1,200 hens, says it value him Rs 1.25 lakh to arrange the device.
But even so coaching folks on putting in hydroponic fodder programs, Ashwin additionally gives session and set up services and products throughout India and in international locations like Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. With this, he has been ready to clock Rs 2 crore in earnings closing yr. This yr, he initiatives an source of revenue spice up to Rs 10 crore.
“After I got here again to Mumbai, my circle of relatives used to be surprised at my determination to hand over my task, the place my wage package deal used to be price Rs 25 lakh according to annum. For 8 years between 2011 and 2019, I infrequently earned any source of revenue from my hydroponics undertaking. Additionally, I invested Rs 25 lakh — some from my financial savings and the remainder loaned from my members of the family. It is just previously 4 years that I began incomes a take advantage of this paintings. However I loved the paintings that I installed all through those years,” he says.
“This can be very pleasing to look that lately, folks in India are as occupied with hydroponics as I used to be again then,” Ashwin stocks.
Edited through Pranita Bhat; All footage: Ashwin Sawant.