If you are asked what things are needed to grow trees your natural answer will be soil, fertiliser, and water. It may be beyond your imagination that today, we have a technique that lets you grow trees without any soil.
This unique technique is known as hydroponics. Sriram Gopal from Chennai has taken a lead in promoting this technique in India. According to Sriram, agriculture should not be treated as a subject to study in colleges and universities only, instead, it should be used to find solutions to problems of our country. The use of modern technologies in agriculture can truly transform the economic structure of India.
Thirty-four-year-old Sriram has an engineering degree in electrical and electronics and an MBA degree in marketing and strategy from the United Kingdom. His father, Gopalakrishnan, had a photo processing and printing machine-making factory. But because of poor health and low business, his father was forced to close the factory in 2007.
Sriram’s father also had several photo labs, because of which his son developed a keen interest in high-end cameras since his college days. After completing his studies, Sriram thought of setting up a high-end camera repair shop in Chennai.
How it began
Five years ago, when he was leading a successful IT company, his friend showed him a video related to hydroponics on YouTube. He was impressed with the technique as it resonated with his ideologies. Sriram believes that India is basically an agriculture-based country, with a special focus on farming. In present day scenario, it is important to implement technological advancement in India’s agriculture setup. Hydroponics can become one of the most effective techniques to feed the growing population of our country. He believed this is the future as development of cities has reduced the availability of cultivable land. Adequate water supply system is also not available for irrigation.
In a special conversation with KenFolios, Sriram said, “Agriculture and industries are considered as two different sectors in India, but given the current demand, we can only succeed if we consider agriculture as an industry.” — Sriram Gopal.
At the end of the week, Sriram started his experiments on hydroponics on the rooftop of his father’s locked factory in Perungudi, Chennai. His father also gave his complete support to his son’s initiative. The effect of these plants had a positive affect on his father’s health and it improved.
Then Sriram decided that he would definitely do something bigger in this sector. He started communicating with foreign companies that worked in the field of hydroponics, and persuaded them to invest in India. He told them he will not only gain knowledge on the technology related to hydroponics but will also act as their representative in India. With the technical support of these foreign companies, he only invested Rs 5 lakh and opened a company called Future Farms.
His efforts did not go in vain and in only five years, yearly turnover of the company crossed Rs 2 crore. According to Sriram, his company is increasing every year at a rate of 300 percent. The yearly turnover of the company in 2015-2016 was Rs 38 lakh, which became Rs 2 crore in 2016-17. This year, the turnover has already crossed Rs 2 crore and is expected to reach around Rs 6 crore by the end of the year.
Today, about 60 talented youngsters from different fields are giving their valuable contribution to Future Farms. So far, Sriram has invested around Rs 2.5 crore in the company. Those people, who have invested around Rs 10 to15 lakhs in the company, do not get a fixed salary. Instead, all these 12 people have a share in the company.
What is hydroponics
Giving more information about hydroponics, Sriram explains that by this method, plants and vegetables can be grown in a flat or house without using any soil. Fillings such as sand or pebbles are inserted in water and a special solution is made to provide the essential nutrients to the plants. To supply oxygen to the plants, thin grooves or small pumps are used. Through this technique, plants can be grown by using 90 percent less consumption of water compared to conventional farming.
Absolutely no pesticides are used and the overall crop production is also high compared to the traditional system. According to a report from the Transparency Market Research, global hydroponics business, which was of $6,934.6 million in 2016, is expected to grow to $12,106.5 million by 2025.
Currently, Sriram’s company sells hydroponics kit on their company website. The price range of one kit is between Rs 999 to Rs 69,999. Apart from this, the company also makes hydroponics setup at home or in buildings, according to the requirement. The cost of making 200 to 5,000 square feet hydroponics is about Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.
A small business that started more as a hobby five years back now has taken the form of a revolution in this country. This initiative of Sriram has proved to be very effective in tackling the ever-depleting natural resources of our country.
Share this article with friends who are interested in farming and encourage them.