Fodder Millionaire and the Blue Mountain

Our newsletter this week includes a fodder millionaire, an online organic food supermarket, a Blue Mountain that's the abode of Gods, empowered tribal women and more

Urvashi Dev Rawal
New Update
fodder fodder maize

Fodder Millionaire and the Blue Mountain

Dear Reader,

When was the first time you heard of hydroponic farming? This method of cultivation using nutrient-rich water without soil is gradually catching up in India even though it has been used globally for many years. 

One obvious advantage of hydroponic farming is that it requires just 10 percent water and one percent land compared to traditional farming. Other advantages are that it allows for year-round crop production, reduces the use of chemicals and fertilisers and helps protect the environment.

The farming technique has been growing at a slow pace in India due to a lack of awareness and expertise, high initial costs, heavy dependence on electricity and a limited variety of crops that can be grown.

But Ashwin Sawant, a mechanical engineer, overcame the challenges to set up a successful hydroponic farming business growing fodder through research at his 2-acre farm in Junnar, Pune, writes my colleague Riya. 

For temperature control, Ashwin set up a ‘fan and pad’ system instead of air conditioners and used dehumidifiers to keep humidity under control. Along with other innovations, he has created a low-cost and hugely profitable hydroponic fodder farming model for dairy farmers in India. 

He fine-tuned the model by setting up a goat farm and feeding the nutrient-rich fodder to the animals. The results were excellent.

Ashwin now provides consultation and executes turnkey projects through his enterprise Scientific Hydroponics, which has also helped train around 8,000 people so far. Ashwin is now a hydroponic fodder millionaire having executed over 80 projects in India and the Gulf in the last four years! And yes, farmers can recover capital investment in less than two years. How? Read on to know. 

In Gujarat’s backward Dahod town, a chance encounter with a tribal woman in 1989 changed Jabeen Jambughodawala’s future plans. Instead of appearing for the Civil Services exam as she had planned, she started working with tribal women, who had to otherwise migrate with their families to cities every summer in search of work. Jabeen began by taking their tribal bead jewellery to state exhibitions and then contemporised the designs to take them to the global audience, writes my colleague Rashmi. 

Jabeen went on to add more products and crafts with time and set up her NGO, Sahaj India. It has trained 18,000 tribal women so far. Today, Sahaj works with 5,000 women in the Dahod, Chhota Udepur and Narmada districts of Gujarat. Sahaj has almost put an end to annual migration and empowered the women. It has brought change on the ground. Kudos to Jabeen!

Our other interesting story this week is also from Maharashtra. In 2008, a teenaged Aakash Thakkar accompanied his father to the Agricultural Produce Market Committee market in Vashi, Navi Mumbai, to sell surplus bananas and ginger produced on their farm in Karjat. However, the traders offered them very nominal prices for the produce. That motivated Aakash to try and help farmers who are paid a pittance for their toil, writes my colleague Rashmi.

While doing his MBA at Mumbai University, Aakash Thakkar began building ‘The Farmer’, an online organic supermarket selling chemical-free fruits, vegetables, cereals, grains, oils, bakery products, dairy products, and other items.

Aakash’s firm has tied up with over 100 associate farmers in Himachal Pradesh, Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu), Mahabaleshwar (Maharashtra) and other places. It procures produce from the farmers at 20 to 30 percent above the market price and delivers them fresh to customers. Aakash is also a farmer himself, cultivating organic fruits, pulses and grains at his Karjat farm. Do read up on his story!

In the Money section, we bring you 10 large-cap stocks trading at a discount right now. They are also expected to be less volatile compared to mid and small-cap stocks in case of a sell-off in the market.

For the Sunday story, read about Mizoram’s Phawngpui or the Blue Mountain. The Phawngpui peak is much revered by the people as it is considered to be the abode of the goddess of the Mizo tribes. The town at the base of the mountain is called Sangau and interestingly, the locals believe that they are one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

Happy reading and discovering!





How this Maharashtra engineer became a hydroponics fodder millionaire


How Sahaj India has empowered 18,000 tribal women in eastern Gujarat


How Maharashtra’s MBA farmer built an organic food supermarket