Rahul Dhoka, founder of Acqua Farms, and Mamatha Jahnavi, founder of Hydrilla Aquaponics, share how hydroponics can be a good source of income and what you should do to set up your own farm!
We often receive emails from our readers, asking doubts about their experiments with sustainable living. So, here’s a section dedicated to you – TBI’s ‘agony aunt’ for all things green.
This week we received an email from Aravind V asking about the yield and scope of business for hydroponics.
To answer Aravind’s question, we reached out to two experts: Rahul Dhoka, an expert in the field of hydroponics and the founder of Acqua Farms, Chennai, and Mamatha Jahnavi, founder of Hydrilla Aquaponics which is based in Bengaluru.
Both of them have expanded their interest in hydroponics into a revenue model; here’s what they had to say!
1) Start Small
While Rahul and Mamatha have expanded hydroponics into a business, both of them started with an interest in gardening and cultivation and experimented on a very small scale.
“ I always recommend beginners to start with a small pilot project and practice before going commercial,” says Mamatha.
“It’s always better to opt for smaller herbs like basil and tulsi when you are starting out. This way, you’ll learn how the procedure works. It is also important to celebrate the small wins before you head out to go commercial,” she adds.
“For me, it started as a hobby. The concept of vertical gardening got me hooked, and I’m glad I could thoroughly enjoy the entire process before I entered the commercial side,” says Rahul.
Rahul who grows over 6,000 plants today has a collection that includes exotic Italian basil, carom (ajwain), mint, spinach, lettuce, kale and a host of leafy greens and herbs.
“Instead of gathering information about hydroponics, explore the practical side. Start with a 2 or a 10 planter system and get to know the technique. Once you’ve got the hang of it, expand your hydroponics garden,” he adds.
2) Saving and Earning with Hydroponics
“A question that arises often is why we should opt for hydroponics over organic gardening. The answer to that is quite simple. Hydroponics requires 90 per cent less water than soil-based organic farming, and since the micronutrients are directly fed to the plant you’ll also get a better yield,” explains Rahul.
But the biggest advantage is that hydroponics does not take up a lot of resources like space and water, which could, in turn, save you a lot of money. The wide variety of plants that Rahul grows in only 80 sq ft of space is the best example of this.
“If a plant needs 60 days to grow in soil-based farming, hydroponic farming will require half the time and give you double the yield with very little water,” Rahul explains.
Hydroponic produce is sold at a premium price in the market because people are now aware of its benefits and know that all the procedures are very hygienic. The process is absolutely free of harmful chemicals and pesticides, so it always sells at a better price than regular vegetables in the market,” explains Mamatha.
3) Be Ready To Spend Time
“Hydroponics must always be treated as a priority. If you want to expand commercially in the field of hydroponics it will require a lot of time and dedication. You absolutely cannot treat it as a side business,” mentions Rahul.
Rahul who quit his 9-5 desk job to venture out into hydroponics would spend a minimum of 4 hours every day with his plants.
“You’ll need to spend a lot of time observing your plants and looking out for pest infestations. You’ll also have to check if they are receiving enough nutrients and water. This is one of the golden rules of hydroponics,” concludes Mamatha.
We hope this has cleared up all your doubts and given you enough motivation to try out hydroponics!
To know more, write to us at email@example.com.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)