I have been a member of this community for a while and have seen a sharp rise in interest around agri ventures from our Techie peers. Given I am (was) wearing the same shoes, I can share a few pointers :
1 - If you are doing this alone and esply if are a single income family, it behooves each of us to take it slow. Step into this gradually.
2 - Hopefully, you'll eventually fully transition into Agriculture. Until then, take a few steps each time, try 1-2 crops each year, learn and practice 1-2 new techniques (drip, hydroponics, pisciculture,etc) each year. Do not expect to be fully sustainable in 1 (possibly 2) years. It takes time and patience if you are into this part-time. On the same note, take advantage of buying larger parcel of land if possible, it will only become more expensive later while there is no harm in keeping excess land uncultivated.
3 - Do not fall for online fads. Forums like these are invaluable to keep current but the information discussed (esply about Wonder crops like Stevia, Jatropa or like Emu) have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Initially, tried and tested crops are a safer way in.
4 - Agriculture is a lifestyle, not as much a career. It is much more about a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Money is the means to do more, achieve more, be more creative. It should almost never be the goal. Consider real estate, IT or finance if you want quick money...though they may not be any easier either.
5 - Be ready to get dirty. Try rooftop gardening, etc to get a sense for it. Step into this only when you feel you are ready for the mud, dirt, heat and sweat. You'll never find a more fulfilling job...but you'll have to pay for it as much in kind.
6 - If there are two nuggets, I'd like to end with : Location & Network.
- Location : It is after all land. Prime land will cost more but hopefully will be worth it in the long run in terms of convenience, fertility, proximity to facilities, appreciation, etc. Do not try to speculate on farm land for short term again, you're better of investing in the city in that case.
- Network : Given, this post is addressing inquiries from Techies and other non-agri professionals, we will not enter this domain with much agri knowledge. Grow your network, take advantage of such forums, MEET people and visit locations. Little will be achieved by exchanging emails and online msgs.
About me : My brother and I started thinking about alternative energy about 4 years ago. Since then, my brother has come back to India, started a sizable plantation. We have since diversified our focus to fruit and veggies as well. It took us a while, we made some difficult decisions but finally got started. We continue to learn everyday and would be happy to guide folks who are still considering making the switch. More about us at www.saverafarms.com