Suraj Kasde explaining the Hydroponic farming method to villagers.
By Ajay Mardikar :
New method of farming in a small space has been experimented by a young engineer from Nagpur and given to the tribals in Mariampur village near Chikhaldara. Under this experiment, vegetables are being grown in ‘Hydroponic’ farming system. Ankit Patil, with the help of Father Simon from a Church organisation in Chikhaldara and a teacher from Sipna College, Chikhaldara, have introduced the system. Commonly used vegetables are being grown in small pots, with minimum use of water and plant nutrients. The method has not only saved water, otherwise used in traditional farming, but also can be carried out in a limited space. It can also be called a Hydroponic multilayer farming.
Ankit Patil first carried out the experiments at his residence in Nagpur and later transferred the technology to Suraj Kasde, a tribal from Mariampur village. Suraj is the only villager who understands Marathi. Now, he has been guiding other villagers on the new method. Talking to ‘The Hitavada’ Ankit stated that the cost of farming is also drastically reduced. This include agricultural procedures, expenditure on labour for harvesting and post-harvest procedure of cleaning the vegetables. In small pots or boxes, only water with nutrients required for growth of a plant are used. Cocoa powder is used for support to the plant. This power can be replaced with other cheaper material.
A small farmer can reap produce in a small place, maybe in his courtyard, for which he will need land of about an acre. Watering the crop is also not difficult for him. The method is being supported by Father Simon. The vegetables being grown are Palak, Methi, Lal Math, Kothimbir and Lettuce (used in salads). Ankit an engineering graduate from Nagpur and post-graduate from Germany has been making several such experiments. He has experimented with biogas plants run using solar energy. Use of slurry of biogas plants effectively. His efforts are towards reducing the input cost and using naturally available resources and also to prevent wastage of material. His association with Gou Anusandhan Kendra, Deolapar has been reported earlier for his experiments with biogas plants.
The experiments on Hydroponic farming started in January this year has started yielding results. However, it is at experimental level. Father Simon has encouraged Ankit to perform the experiments and has also supported financially. With depleting ground water level his method of Hydroponic farming could prove to be a boon to tribals of Melghat in Amravati district. Agriculture in the region is basically dependent on the rain god. Vagaries of nature have also played truant in the last few years, putting them in tight corner. The problems faced by farmers, who cannot invest money in agricultural operations, motivated Ankit to experiment with Hydroponic farming.