Nestled within the picturesque hills of Solan, Himachal Pradesh, the place mist-laden mornings embrace the earth, a brand new innovation is taking root. This quaint city, revered because the Mushroom Metropolis of India, is thought within the nation for being the biggest producer of mushrooms within the nation.
Past the scrumptious fungi and delightful landscapes, the place can be changing into a breeding floor for innovation. Whereas many of the youth shrink back from farming — contemplating it low in earnings — Gaurav Sabharwal is altering the narrative.
“I do know that many individuals are of the opinion that farming shouldn’t be worthwhile however it is determined by what you’re rising. Whereas the general public within the metropolis are into mushroom farming, I made a decision to do one thing new to make it extra worthwhile,” he tells The Higher India.
The 36-year-old is rising saffron utilizing aeroponics in his 300 sq ft setup in Solan. With a managed atmosphere and chemical-free atmosphere, he was in a position to develop 500 gm of the ‘crimson gold’ and promote it at a exceptional Rs 500 per gram.
Need to know the way he grew Saffron that may solely be grown in Kashmir? Right here is his story –
‘Adversity results in innovation’
Born and raised in Solan, Gaurav aspired to observe in his father’s footsteps.
“I come from a small place and had humble desires. After finishing my commencement, I made a decision to hitch my father in working the household enterprise,” he remembers.
With easy desires of increasing his father’s shoe enterprise, Gaurav discovered contentment in following the trail his father had paved.
“It was 4 years in the past when issues modified with my father passing away. There was a debt on our household that we needed to pay, and our shoe enterprise was not making a lot revenue,” he says.
Struck with grief and burdened with the brand new duty of fulfilling the mortgage, Gaurav labored diligently to make his household enterprise thrive.
“Name it destiny, however the enterprise wasn’t yielding a lot revenue, and I felt the stress to make a change. That’s once I started exploring avenues for extra profitable ventures. One factor I used to be clear about – I wished to run a enterprise,” he states.
Persevering with, he explains, “I may see quite a few mushroom planters in Solan who had been incomes substantial incomes. Nonetheless, with the market saturated with producers, costs had been steadily lowering. I realised I wanted to do one thing totally different.”
In search of choices on-line is when he came upon in regards to the treasured ‘crimson gold’ – saffron.
“Everybody is aware of how costly saffron is and the way worthwhile it may be. Nonetheless, I all the time assumed that it might probably solely be grown in Kashmir,” he says, including that he began researching on the web if there have been methods of rising it in Himachal.
“The web has all of the solutions and that’s how I came upon in regards to the strategy of utilizing a managed atmosphere for rising several types of crops,” he says.
He discovered just a few cases the place individuals grew saffron utilizing aeroponics. Aeroponics is a approach of rising crops with out soil. As an alternative of planting them within the floor, the crops dangle within the air, and their roots are misted with a nutrient-rich spray.
“Aeroponics will help crops develop sooner, use much less water, and be extra proof against sure ailments in comparison with conventional soil-based strategies. It’s like giving crops a bathe of vitamins to assist them thrive,” he says.
Along with his coronary heart set on rising saffron, he set on a journey of studying aeroponics from scratch.
Making earnings and educating others
“I did the very first thing that most individuals would do — go on the web and browse up about aeroponics. I discovered a bunch of individuals rising saffron utilizing the method, and I made a decision to contact them, reaching out for his or her assist,” he says.
It was through the analysis that he came upon the sum of money he would want to arrange his farm lab.
“I didn’t have that sort of funding, so I sought assist from the federal government. I bought a mortgage of Rs 10 lakh and even bought a rebate underneath PM Modi’s startup scheme,” he says.
With the appropriate funding in hand, Gaurav was able to attempt his hand at rising saffron in Solan.
“The best issue to contemplate was that the temperature wanted to develop saffron was solely in Kashmir in India. So I needed to mimic that right here in Solan. I used the lab whose temperature may be managed,” he says.
“After mimicking the atmosphere and planting the seeds, it was necessary for me to maintain an in depth eye on the buds. I used to be not conscious that they will catch fungus and was bowled over when my first crop did catch it,” he says.
“I used to be in a position to do away with it by drying the affected crops and separating them from the wholesome ones,” he provides.
After practically 8 months of laborious labour and planning, Gaurav was in a position to develop 500 grams of saffron in his aeroponics farm.
“The produce, though not loads, was a superb signal. I used to be very tense as a result of this was a leap of religion for me. Earlier, I had no intentions of doing something and seeing these buds flower was an important feeling,” he says.
As soon as prepared together with his produce, he was in a position to promote it at Rs 500 per gram. “The market fee was Rs 300 however these will not be pure and are normally chemically grown. I had them examined and mine produce was offered for greater than the market worth,” he gleamingly shares.
Speculating that his funding will quickly get returns, Gaurav says, “One of the best factor about utilizing this system is that it doesn’t require me to observe the seasons. This makes the produce accessible to you all year long.”
The brand new method was additionally very properly acquired by the individuals round him. “Lots of people in my metropolis have proven curiosity in studying the way to use aeroponics. I’ve already taught it to 5 individuals and I get inquiries on daily basis,” he says.
Promoting his produce underneath the title of Shoolini Saffron, he says, “I’m planning to increase the manufacturing extra and attain extra prospects.”
Should you want to purchase the saffron or learn to use aeroponics, you’ll be able to attain Gaurav at 98166 11119.
Edited by Padmashree Pande