Dhrubajyoti Sharma, head of the Department of Zoology at Dimoria College, Guwahati expanded his father Gopinath’s garden into one of Northeast India’s biggest nurseries with over 10,000 varieties of plants.
In 1984, a school principal from Dhupguri, Assam started a hobby of setting up a garden. Gopinath Sharma, the gardener, was not just doing this for himself. Rather, whenever people visited him and asked for any plants, he would give them away free of cost.
In addition to putting together a garden in his home, Gopinath had even managed to set up an equally adorable garden in his school, which also had a pond.
Growing up in this household, Gopinath’s children also developed an interest in gardening. They would assist their father in watering and taking care of the plants. When Gopinath retired, both from his profession and hobbies, his son Dhrubajyoti Sharma took over the planting activities and decided to expand them.
“It was by seeing my father’s interest in plants that encouraged me to read more about them. Even my career shifted as I took up biology as the main subject,” shares Dhrubajyoti.
He continues, “In 1992, I took gardening seriously. I had just completed my post-graduation in biology and thought of earning some pocket money by helping my father. I was also preparing for a job then.”
Dhrubajyoti is now the head of the Department of Zoology at Dimoria College, Guwahati. He also runs one of the biggest garden nurseries in the Northeast called Daffodil Farm.
“The garden was set up on a small scale basis in 1992 by taking the plant collections of my father. In the initial days, I couldn’t earn even Rs 100 per day. Slowly but steadily, the business picked up and by 1996, we began getting a daily income of Rs 1,000,” shares the professor.
Two years later, his father passed away and Dhrubajyoti’s brother joined the business. In 1999, Dhrubajyoti married Rekha Goswami, a teacher by profession.
“Just like everyone in my family, Rekha was also very interested in gardening. She even quit her job in 2003 to spend more time in the nursery and ensure its smooth functioning. Because of this, I could continue my job and use the rest of my time for the nursery,” he says.
Dhrubajyoti adds that his love for the subject remains the same even today. “I have the option to stop teaching and run the business. But my love for biology and teaching is never-ending. Moreover, as my family members and employees are doing great with the business, I have no worries.”
Haven of age-old mother plants
“Spread over 17 bighas (land area varying locally from one-third to one acre), Daffodil Farm is one of the biggest nurseries in the state,” says the owner. He adds that it is also a tourist attraction in Assam as it is home to more than 700-year-old mother plants certified by the Department of Horticulture.
Dhrubajyoti shares that the farm has more than 10,000 varieties of flowers, fruits, vegetables, and medicinal and ornamental plants. The enormous bonsai collection is another major attraction here.
“There are about 300 full-time employees at this large nursery”, says Dhrubajyoti, “including landscapers, delivery persons and drivers. Apart from shipping nationwide, lakhs of saplings get exported to Nepal, Bhutan, the Philippines and Bangladesh, every year.”
Varieties of seedless litchi, mango, apple, kiwi, banana and coconut are present in this nursery. Many types of lemon plants are also sold here.
Dhrubajyoti says, “During winters, 200 to 300 people visit the farm every day. Most of them are attracted to the bonsai collection. Some of them come to take advice in setting up their own nurseries. So far, we have helped around 600 people to open their own nurseries in the northeastern region.”
Setting up a horticulture college
In 2017, Dhrubajyoti and Rekha came up with the idea of starting a horticulture college. Both of them being biology teachers, it was quite easy for them. They felt that this will help in developing more interest in farming among young people.
“This thought sprouted when a large number of people started coming to us for advice. We felt that it would be good to have a separate college to teach about horticulture. In 2017, we launched Daffodil College of Horticulture in Khetri, Assam,” says Dhrubajyoti.
The college has an affiliation with Assam Science and Technology University. Additionally, the college is associated with many projects of the Horticulture Department, Government of India.
The institution is equipped with a large library with up to 6,000 books related to horticulture, which are from the personal collection of Dhrubajyoti. The professor’s son is also studying at the college.
“We plan to turn the college into an agricultural university soon. Another future plan is to expand the collection in our nursery and ship the plants to more foreign countries. We’d also love to spread our knowledge in the field to upcoming gardeners,” says Dhrubajyoti.
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Read this story in Hindi here.
Edited by Pranita Bhat