With the ever-growing population and volatilities in modern supply chains, farmers go for alternatives that require less land and bring agriculture production closer to consumers. Several farmers in India take up hydroponic farming over traditional farming.
Rising trend of hydroponic farming - strawberries and bitter gourds
Arvind Dhakad of Ratlam grows strawberries through hydroponic farming. He confirms that his produce grows 50% faster and yields up to 70% profit. While the hydroponic model may appear new to some farmers, Arvind says that it can cut 90% of water usage due to water recirculation. Further, he says that controlled farming, feeding, and watering can increase the yield significantly and give better results than soil farming. It was not more than five years back when Arvind visited Israel on an agro tour and saw farmers growing fresh produce without soil. He then did research, and after numerous trials and errors concluded that hydroponic farming could revamp the entire Indian agriculture. Now, he aims to guide others to make the process of adapting to this new technique easier.
Similarly, Satish Shidagoudar, a farmer based in Belagavi’s Shirur village harvests 50 tonnes of the vegetable every year on 1.5 acres of land. A double graduate in education, he implemented the techniques in farming to generate better income. He started with growing bitter gourd in 0.25 acres of land. He induced drip irrigation for proper water management and created plant beds for retaining moisture and preventing weed growth. Further, he started adding micronutrients to ensure his crops grew healthy. Citing the results, he moved to 1.5 acres and harvested around 50 tonnes of bitter gourd.
Firms provide chemical-free products grown via hydroponic farming
The Hyderabad-based agri-tech company, Simply Fresh India, with its new 150-acre farm is growing vegetables using the hydroponic technique. CEO Sachin Darbarwar said that their Rs 120-crore facility is one of the most precise farming facilities in India. He explained that 62 acres of land are under development which includes 22 acres of AI-controlled retractable greenhouses. Further, 40 acres are dedicated to seeding and germination room, water treatment plant and tanks, temperature-controlled packhouse. Besides, they have used six acres of a man-made pond for rainwater harvesting.
The project would create around 150-200 jobs. He further added that in the first phase, they would grow vegetables and following that focus will be on contract farming for significant corporates. The company is looking for more export opportunities and will continue to cater to hotels and restaurants. In all, sustainable farming solutions are picking up in the country.