Recurring droughts across various states in India have brought the farmers to their knees. With no water to nourish their farms, farmers are left with little to no source of income. What do you do when such tragedy strikes, and there is no way you can water your land?
While completing research on alternate methods of farming to help drought-stricken farmers, Sunil Jose, an alumnus of IIM-Bangalore, stumbled upon a solution that might seem ironic at first but is actually quite effective.
The method Sunil hit upon is hydroponics—the practice of growing plants without soil and depends solely on the use of water.
Before your scepticism creeps in, Sunil clarifies how it can be utilised in areas hit with drought.
“Water is used very carefully, and is recycled back into the system,” he told the Times of India, adding that, “The plants get only the desired amount of water with nutrients as and when it is required.”
Since the method does not make use of soil, the water needs are also miniscule—just 5-10%—as compared to land crops. It also gives a higher yield than the traditional methods while using minimum power and space.
Sunil started an initiative which would help farmers adopt this method in their farms, and according to it, they have to plant herbs and vegetables in a vertical fashion instead of the usual horizontal way.
This lets them grow a large number of plants in a relatively smaller space.
Sunil soon discovered that hydroponics could also be used to grow fodder. This will be helpful to the farmers who own cattle.
Sunil has also been involved in making vertical hydroponic gardens in Bengaluru a reality. He designed and implemented the vertical gardens on the MG Road metro pillars in the IT-Hub. “This can purify the air and nullify the effects of vehicular pollution,” Sunil said.
He has also been actively advocating the use of hydroponics in farming in urban as well as rural areas.
His experiment in Telangana became successful when the villagers realised that mustard flourishes in the hydroponic machine that Sunil had made available.
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“Twenty-one percent of tomatoes grown in Australia are with hydroponics. It is also becoming popular in Canada, the US and Holland. Of late, the Gulf countries are also showing a lot of interest,” he said.
He is optimistic that as information about this method spreads, more and more farmers who don’t have the space to grow plants or those who live in the arid areas of India, will eventually opt for the “soil-less farming” technique.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)