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 understood within the nation for being the biggest producer of mushrooms within the nation.
Past the scrumptious fungi and delightful landscapes, the place can also be changing into a breeding floor for innovation. Whereas a lot 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 will not be worthwhile however it is dependent upon what you might be rising. Whereas most people 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 surroundings and chemical-free surroundings, he was capable of 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 comply with in his father’s footsteps.
“I come from a small place and had humble desires. After finishing my commencement, I made a decision to affix my father in working the household enterprise,” he recollects.
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 after I started exploring avenues for extra profitable ventures. One factor I used to be clear about – I needed to run a enterprise,” he states.
Persevering with, he explains, “I might see quite a few mushroom planters in Solan who had been incomes substantial incomes. Nevertheless, with the market saturated with producers, costs had been steadily reducing. I realised I wanted to do one thing completely different.”
In search of choices on-line is when he discovered in regards to the treasured ‘crimson gold’ – saffron.
“Everybody is aware of how costly saffron is and the way worthwhile it may be. Nevertheless, I all the time assumed that it might 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 discovered in regards to the strategy of utilizing a managed surroundings for rising various kinds of crops,” he says.
He discovered a number of situations the place folks grew saffron utilizing aeroponics. Aeroponics is a means of rising crops with out soil. As a substitute of planting them within the floor, the crops cling within the air, and their roots are misted with a nutrient-rich spray.
“Aeroponics may also help crops develop quicker, use much less water, and be extra proof against sure illnesses 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 instructing others
“I did the very first thing that most individuals would do — go on the web and skim up about aeroponics. I discovered a bunch of individuals rising saffron utilizing the approach, and I made a decision to contact them, reaching out for his or her assist,” he says.
It was in the course of the analysis that he discovered the amount of cash he would wish to arrange his farm lab.
“I didn’t have that form of funding, so I sought assist from the federal government. I obtained a mortgage of Rs 10 lakh and even obtained a rebate underneath PM Modi’s startup scheme,” he says.
With the suitable funding in hand, Gaurav was able to strive his hand at rising saffron in Solan.
“The best issue to think about 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 could be managed,” he says.
“After mimicking the surroundings and planting the seeds, it was vital for me to maintain a detailed eye on the buds. I used to be not conscious that they’ll catch fungus and was shocked when my first crop did catch it,” he says.
“I used to be capable of 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 capable of develop 500 grams of saffron in his aeroponics farm.
“The produce, though not loads, was a great 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 ideal feeling,” he says.
As soon as prepared along with his produce, he was capable of promote it at Rs 500 per gram. “The market fee was Rs 300 however these are usually not pure and are normally chemically grown. I had them examined and mine produce was offered for greater than the market value,” he gleamingly shares.
Speculating that his funding will quickly get returns, Gaurav says, “The very best factor about utilizing this method is that it doesn’t require me to comply with the seasons. This makes the produce accessible to you all year long.”
The brand new approach was additionally very effectively obtained by the folks round him. “Lots of people in my metropolis have proven curiosity in studying use aeroponics. I’ve already taught it to 5 folks and I get inquiries every single day,” he says.
Promoting his produce underneath the identify of Shoolini Saffron, he says, “I’m planning to develop the manufacturing extra and attain extra clients.”
In case you want to purchase the saffron or discover ways to use aeroponics, you may attain Gaurav at 98166 11119.
Edited by Padmashree Pande