Three years back when I heard of Hydroponics for the first time, I was super excited and curious. Excited because I thought this micro farming method may help me jump-start as a farmer. I had, by then, decided to trade my promising job in IT and leave USA for good in exchange of my career in farming.
I knew nothing except the only farming experience in my childhood of visiting few of my farmer friends’ fields, planting few plants and plucking, burning and eating groundnuts. I roamed around without directions for some time. Though my lacking experience in the farming domain added to my disappointments, along with other logistics troubles, I saw hydroponics more like looking for water source in a desert. Yes! That really quenched my thirst by helping me to understand so many facts about farming and that too I could practically learn farming techniques sitting in an IT jungle called “Bengaluru”!
Ever since I started teaching farming through Belesiri, the organization I founded to promote soil-less farming, I started receiving calls from people with different backgrounds. They were equally curious about hydroponics as I was few years back.
By the time they called me and few other hydroponics institutes, they had already gone through lots of videos and online materials which give them more energy and excitement! I get calls mostly from professionals who are either fed up with their routine job or they are in their 40s wanting to get into more exciting roles. I think leaving your job just because the other side appears to be green to you, is a unwise. You must observe caution and take time to think as to what you exactly want to achieve. I was earning good money in my corporate world – and I am not saying earning money in farming is a sin. You can do whatever you want to and earn money too but… the passion for the work should come first and it is important to have lots of patience – you cannot kick a plant to become a tree in one day.
When someone decides to quit his/her job, hydroponics looks like an alternative career. One such example of one of frustrated IT professionals called me once and asked me… “Is this profitable business?” I really hate to answer this question, which many people ask but – I can’t keep quiet! Instead of answering I threw back a question as an answer… “Do you think running a grocery shop is profitable business?” He was literally shocked and was struggling or hesitating to answer. Or maybe he felt ‘what rubbish!?’ I continued… “There are many people who have successfully earned their livelihood and even become very rich by running a grocery store, but there are even more who had to close their business within 3 months. Similarly, there could be no solid answer for your question, right?” Then he said he agrees.
Hydroponics is a technique to grow plants using mineral rich water. All other challenges which growers experience remain same. It is not a magic! People think it is a very easy way of growing plants and money together! If it was so easy then there would have been more farms everywhere than anything else. This is a simple technique but you need to put lots of effort to get to that stage. It may take a year or few years!
Another most frequently asked question is “Can we learn farming in ONE DAY?” Never! It is three years since I started my journey as a farmer and I am still learning. It is more like learning each day and this business is only for those who are curious and accept learning as a journey. We can be a better farmer but never the best! It takes quite a bit of effort and hard work to achieve anything meaningful. I normally advice people to start small and do not invest truck loads of money until they are very much confident on how to grow a specific crop and more importantly how to sell your produce.
Just like micro-farming, start with baby steps before planning to scale. Most of the failures are not because of the lack of growing skills but because of poor marketing skills! As an independent farmer, you must wear many hats – a good salesman, digital marketer, influencer, growth hacker and the likes. Also, farming is not just about making money – it’s an organic lifestyle. I chose farming to be a happy grower myself and not really as a quick path to be a crorepati. There are folks who calls me to check whether or not hydroponics is an answer to the layoff in automobile industry – “sir, can I just switch the industry and start earning from next month?” – so my answer is obviously a firm NO. I am not here to sell fake dreams – but to sell practical ideas for organic living and contribute towards making earth a better place for the next generation to spend time on…
(to be continued…)