Author Topic: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?  (Read 20744 times)

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Offline saverafarms

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Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« on: August 18, 2011, 11:58:35 AM »
I have read a little about Hydroponics and its benefits etc..
But I wonder why has not this technology become popular in India. Is it high initial capital? Or is it something else?

Would appreciate some views here..

Offline brijesh

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Re: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2011, 01:41:05 PM »

because we have hydrophobia  ;D

on a more serious note based on my understanding, any new technology / approach is driven by many factors

1. mind-set to accept change
2. cost / benefits
3. time
4. will to drive / implement change (government)

majority of indian agriculture is traditional, it is difficult getting farmers to accept new ideas / technologies e.g. organic / water conservation etc, level of education and difficulting understanding / comprehension of longterm impacts a major issue

money, the kind of investment required by most new technologies e.g. hydroponics require capital investment, majority of farmers do not have this kind of money, the ones who have it are risk averse and enough paisa aa raha hai na tho aane do..kyon change karna ka kuch

government initiative, mostly de centralized and no common vision (although not denying that good work is also being done but majority is in silos)

regards,
Brijesh


Offline saverafarms

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Re: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2011, 01:54:51 PM »
Hi Brijesh,
Thanks for your views..
Let me ask you this - Is right now a good time to get into it? Why or why not?

Do you know any hydroponics projects in India that I can see?

Offline brijesh

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Re: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2011, 02:03:29 PM »
Hi Brijesh,
Thanks for your views..
Let me ask you this - Is right now a good time to get into it? Why or why not?

Do you know any hydroponics projects in India that I can see?

apologies but these are very open ended questions which I may not be able to answer correctly

there is  thread running on this forum which has a hydroponic farm for capsicum, maybe you can get in touch with those guys

as for the first question
why would you want to get into this? any new idea if viable is good and early entrant can have early mover advantages but you may have to pay out more due to non availability of resources, guidance on the technology requirements etc.

if this is not going to make a major impact on your bottomline, what you could probably do is start off with a proof of concept which validates the technology, economics and other factors based on which you can decide to go commercial or make it a part of your full time strategy

again depends on what can be grown using hydroponics and do you see yourself growing those profitably

Offline saverafarms

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Re: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2011, 02:13:09 PM »
You are right..One can have an early adopter advantage..but the major problem is lack of info/knowledge etc..
I know there are couple of companies/individuals that are promoting this concept but I need to see more than that! I hope to visit some projects in the coming months - maybe things will be clearer then!


Offline brijesh

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Re: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2011, 02:23:45 PM »
You are right..One can have an early adopter advantage..but the major problem is lack of info/knowledge etc..
I know there are couple of companies/individuals that are promoting this concept but I need to see more than that! I hope to visit some projects in the coming months - maybe things will be clearer then!

this is the link

http://farmnest.com/forum/new-trends-in-farming/hydroponic-color-pepper-capsicum-cultivation/

you can also speak to TNAU

http://www.techno-preneur.net/information-desk/sciencetech-magazine/2007/jan07/Hydroponics.pdf
G. Thiyagarajan, R. Umadevi & K. Ramesh
Water Technology Centre,
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University,
Coimbatore – 641 003.


http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/banking/crbank_nasb_16syndicate_bank.html (schemes for loans for new tech projects including hydroponics)



Offline Murali

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Re: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2011, 04:15:28 PM »
Hi Savera farms & Brijesh,

Hydroponics is an interesting topic that has been raised.  I have been following  this link (geekgardner.in) very enthusiastically. Nice info can be found here,

http://geekgardener.in/2011/06/20/growing-bok-choy-in-containers/

But in tropical places like India, why would any one go in for Hydroponics commercially. Land and the natures resources are pretty much abundant here  (Sunny climate with good rains ) in South India. I am told that initial investments runs into lakhs and lakhs. Instead of investing lakhs and lakhs into an acre of polyhouse and get 100 tons output, I think it would be more economical to buy more lands and get small yield, In any case this totals up to same.  ;D with land value fast approaching sky, one can get good returns also from this. Just my 2 annas.

Like roof top experiments / hobby as done above by geekgardener is good. Small scale for personal consumption.  Good to learn the plants response to the chemicals oops wrong word, nutrients (sounds more organic  ;D ). Lack or abundance of NPK and others. May be once you learn from this adopt similar recipe when grown in soil.

Regards

Murali

Offline Chandra

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Re: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2011, 09:02:32 PM »
I kind of agree with Murali.

In the final analysis, it boils down to 'why' hydroponics. I can think of two main reasons - higher output per area and consistent quality.

When area is not a constraint, there is no visible benefit of intensive production - i.e., if you produce 10 times the yield per acre in hydroponics, you could as well go for 10 acres of normal cultivation where the higher cost of hydroponic cultivation balances out for the cost of land. Of course, this may make more sense once the land prices become astronomical the way they seem to be going. One will need to work out the economics on the fixed costs, operational costs and yields.

Coming to quality, while it is debatable if the quality of hydroponic produce is better, to the end customer it is not so much of a differentiator. What matters is the look and feel; assuming hydroponics has consistent good quality to the last piece, it would be economics again to compare vis-a-vis the mixed grades of produce in normal farming.

A downside I can think of from an overall project point of view is that land appreciation which is a major benefit in a regular farm project is not there in a hydroponics venture. While investment in a regular project generally appreciates over time, it depreciates in a hydroponic project.
While I do not want to start an organic farming vs. hydroponics debate on this topic, it appears to me both of these are diametrically opposite. In a way, hydroponic produce is like a person fully sustained on saline and other intravenous fluids in a hospital and I am not sure what would be the acceptance rate from the consumer when marketing it as a differentiated product, especially with a greater popularization of natural foods, which are the other extreme. Similar are the growing preferences for country chickens over broilers in India and open grown animal meat over stall fed in the west.
The risks of operating a hydroponic venture seem higher too, given the infrastructure, knowledge, skilled resources, automation, consistent power etc. that are required to run the farm.

Commercial hydroponics to me does not seem a new product innovation for the consumer, but a process change for the producer and hence economics and risk alone would drive a decision on adoption.
Organic fruits and vegetables in Hyderabad direct from our farms

Offline atulkalaskar

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Re: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2011, 10:03:52 PM »
Hi everyone...

I am so glad to see so many views and it clearly shows the maturity with which people are looking at Hydroponics. Just to introduce myself, I am Atul Kalaskar from Pune and I did complete few proof of concept projects for cultivation of Strawberry and color Capsicum. I would like to add few of views and hope you will find it valuable.

For me it was simple business logic. Can I take Agriculture as a business? People open shops, factories and businesses every day so can Agriculture also be as "viable"? Sadly answer is no.....All of us know the reason and they are many. Unlike other businesses one can never be sure what your output will be and can it have some USP? Organic produce is one such USP but I have found that for a commercial farming enterprise it is not a financially viable option.

This is where Hydroponics makes it's impact felt. Through Hydroponics I am able to control various factors that affect the yield and it also helps me produce year round. Reliable, Financially viable and consistent quality production is why Hydroponics must be adopted by everyone.

Someone suggested use of more land but produce less which equals more production is less land is totally unacceptable. The person may not be aware the acute shortage of labor, he has not considered the waste of water, pollution through nutrients draining to soil all are making such farming impossible.

So bottom line why not many people are adopting this innovative idea?

First of course is initial investment. Not everyone can afford to invest 30 lakh to 2 crore (depending on the crop) per acre in fact they find it insane. Small farmers as such won't go for it. It's only when corporate companies will get into farming they will make  it a standard because their business logic won't allow them to factor in variable yield.

Lack of knowledge / Guidance: The first thing people like to do is visit such a farm where technology is in use and only when they are satisfied by seeing they will start thinking seriously. Unfortunately there are not many active farms where people can see the technology in action. There is absolutely zero practical know how available in India and I am saying this from my personal experience. So it becomes even more hard for someone to invest so much money when there is no one who can clearly guide / advise.

Is it a good time to enter?
Absolutely ...no doubts. Since there is not much competition in this field one can afford to get started small and grow from there. Once larger players settle in, you will find it more difficult to get in. On the other hand, you will also be more informed by seeing all around you the ventures and also a good support environment.

So at the end.....there are pros and cons....but one thing is sure....if you enter and treat this as pure business chances of your success are bright. If you enter for the love of technology or with vision to change the world of poor farmers or if you think you can start on shoe string budget....you will be a failure.

Good Luck.

Offline Chandra

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Re: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2011, 03:10:11 PM »
Nice perspective, Atul. Two questions:

1) Why is there a first mover advantage in a 'process'? I mean, what benefit does an early adopter get over someone starting hydroponics later on, since there does not appear to be any product differentiation.

2) Do you have any comparative numbers on the labour requirements and cost (considering skilled vs. unskilled labour) vis-a-vis regular farming on a per tonne basis?

Thanks.
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Offline atulkalaskar

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Re: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2011, 04:47:47 PM »
1) Why is there a first mover advantage in a 'process'? I mean, what benefit does an early adopter get over someone starting hydroponics later on, since there does not appear to be any product differentiation.

Are you sure there is no product differentiation? How about year round production? How about "Residue Free" produce? How about most nutritionally complete produce? How about ensuring all above are true with every harvest?

So if your farm is producing best quality, high in nutritional value, safe and chemical free, consistent and year round produce, isn't that a recipe of a successful business? First movers advantages are always there. Ask Maruti, ask Tata's, ask Amazon, ask anyone who took that first step. Yes there is a risk too and there are many hydroponics businesses failed in US and Europe.

So as I said, look at it as a business, study the crop that you wish to grow, do the market analysis, make a business plan then choose the appropriate technology that alone will guide you to success.

2) Do you have any comparative numbers on the labour requirements and cost (considering skilled vs. unskilled labour) vis-a-vis regular farming on a per tonne basis?


You tell me......Cultivating 5 acre land instead of 1 acre which will require less labour? Where do you need labour in traditional agriculture the most? Land preparing, weeding, irrigation, spraying....all these tasks are either totally removed, automated or reduced in Hydroponic operations.

I was able to man the 1/2 acre proof of concept color capsicum project with 4 people and let me tell you as your farm size grows the labour requirement even goes down per acre basis.

In fact in my upcoming major project, I intend to use people who otherwise cannot get a job in the open market. People such as those who are physically challenged, mentally challenged and so on. I really want to see this comes true.



Offline saverafarms

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Re: Why has hydroponics not really caught on in India?
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2011, 07:22:37 PM »
Atul - When you say, produce is chemical free, can you term it as "organic"? I know this tech uses nutrients and mediums but is it really chemical free?

I second with you that why cultivate 5 acres when you can get the same tonnage from 1 acre. We need to see per acre prodcuctivity and not the total tonnage. Not to forget the additional expense incurred in maintaining 5 acres..

This technology is interesting and I am still studying it. I found that the tech has been around for several decades but still has not managed to become household name, atleast for the agri enthusiasts (like drip etc...) This is what is puzzling me..
Maybe it is in infancy, but then 40-50 years is a lot of time for the tech to mature and even evolve!!



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