I am Mudassar Hussain, 35, of Toba Tek Singh, Pakistan. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Textile Engineering and Master’s in Business Administration.
After serving in the textile industry for ten years, I have been working as farmer since 2013 with a cultivated area of 20 acres. During the last three years, I have learnt that conventional farming is less feasible in Pakistan. We are facing multiple problems, like a lack of water, unfavourable climate conditions, low crop prices, and reduced yield. The survival of a farmer is only possible if he has additional source of income either in agriculture or some other sector.
Some progressive farmers in Pakistan are involved in off-season vegetable cultivation (tunnel farming), but the high cost of production and low demand is making this type of farming no more profitable. In Pakistan more than 90% farmers are small farmers, having average cultivated land between 5 and 10 acres.
Considering the above factors, I have decided to bring some innovation or modern technique in farming, especially for small farmers and Young Agripreneurs. After conducting study for six months, I found the hydroponics method of farming to be the solution under current circumstances to help the growth of small farmers in Pakistan.
My focus was on finding a realistic, achievable and sustainable technique and method. In January, 2016, I installed my roof top small greenhouse in which I cultivated tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, beetroots, garlic, cucumber, and bell pepper. I kept on learning everyday with the ambition to adopt the best crop and technique which can help small farmers, Young Agripreneurs and me.
One day I searched on Google and found garlic to be the most profitable crop in the world. Since that day, my focus has been on garlic.
I’ve tried five different experiments and finally my sixth experiment was successful. I have done my experiments on small scale e.g. only 12 sq. feet area. Now, I will do it on 10,000 sq. feet area as a final project.
This project will help the small farmers and young agripreneurs. All of them will have an additional source of income; also they can expand their farming by using this technique and lead a happy life with a good and sustainable profit.
This technique/method will see garlic cultivated on the plywood stands using the fibre-glass trays. We will use ebb and flow hydroponic technique in this project. In ebb and flow the plants are watered two to four times a day. The nutrients are mixed in water that is first pumped to trays for 30 minutes and then collected back to the tank. The plant-to-plant spacing will be 6.25 sq. inches and in this way we would have 165,888 garlic plants in 7200 sq feet area.
The cost of this project is around USD 5,100 with one crop payback rate (six months).
The detail of cost is as;
- Plywood sheets USD 1,300
- Fibre-glass trays USD 2,150
- Pumps, tank, fittings and pipes USD 800
- Crush and polythene sheets USD 200
- Seed, electricity and nutrients USD 450
- Miscellaneous USD 200
- Total USD 5,100
The project will consist of 18 units: the dimension of each unit will be 100’ x 4’. Each unit will have fibre-glass tray with 9,216 pots. Each pot area will be 6.25 sq inch or 2.5”x2.5”.
Total number of plants will be 9,216 x 18 = 165,888 plants.
Minimum weight expected is 4,976 Kg or 4.9 MTN.
Minimum wholesale price per kg USD 1.3/kg or USD 1,300/MTN
Sale revenue USD 1300 x 4.976 = $ 6,468
The initial cost of the project is high but we can get the pay back only after first crop as calculated above and afterwards handsome profit can be achieved with every crop. The life of the structure is expected to be more than ten years.
The advantages of this project are, less water required, less nutrients required, no problem of weeds, high yield as compared to soil cultivation, less time period of the crop and less labor required as only one person can run the system.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Mudassar Hussain (Pakistan): cmhter[at]gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar are at the discretion of the author only.
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