Young professionals are turning agripreneurs by taking up farming

Meet the farmers with engineering, MBA degreesBCCL
Meet the farmers with engineering, MBA degrees
Many young engineers in India are quitting their flourishing careers in MNCs, ditching their business suits and opting for farming as a profession. Most say it wasn’t the lack of jobs, but the search for a more sustainable lifestyle that prompted the move. (In pic: Abhishek Dhama and Vishal Shaukeen)
Mock testsBCCL
Mock tests
Take the case of Abhishek Dhama, when he first broached the idea of ditching engineering to work on a farm, his family didn't believe him. Other farmers in north Delhi’s Palla village, mockingly called him ‘Mr Stevia’ when he started cultivating a relatively unknown plant that is used to make a natural sweetener.
Say no to pesticidesAgencies
Say no to pesticides
Goa-based Ajay Naik was bothered by the steady deterioration in the quality of vegetables and after a lot of research launched Letcetra Agritech — India’s first indoor vertical hydroponics farm that uses nutrient-rich water rather than soil.“I researched how to grow better, healthier food without pesticides and using fewer resources as compared to conventional farming,” added the computer science engineer who has worked for over 10 years in IT. (Pic: Letcetra Agritech/Facebook)
A cure for all ills?Agencies
A cure for all ills?
Abhishek Singhania's father's illness prompted him to research cheap organic food that was not laden with chemicals. He spent time on farms to see things first hand. His farm, Echoes, works as a model farm for crops and practices and Singhania uses it not just to experiment on techniques he picks up but also to teach and train farmers around him. (Pic: Abhishek Singhania/Nuturista)
Not an easy rideBCCL
Not an easy ride
Dhama remembers the time when he found that there was no one willing to buy his bumper stevia crop but says he is not ready to throw in the towel yet. He has moved to growing at least four crops at a time, such as bok choy, drumsticks, radish and broccoli. In the last two years, he has also been working on an excel sheet that records daily crop prices, hoping he can predict pricing and take advantage of it.
Joining hands to learn new thingsBCCL
Joining hands to learn new things
Dhama's cousin Vishal Shaukeen, who is also an engineer, studied and set up a polyhouse, a greenhouse made from polythene, last year on his own. The two also used online tutorials to install a drip irrigation system saving water, power and bringing down input costs. Both come from farming families but had never shown interest in agriculture till a couple of years back. Now, they spend most of their time reading up about the subject online.
Doubts and solutionsGetty Images
Doubts and solutions
For former IBM executive Venkat Iyer, 53, the only cloud of doubt came a year after he quit his job in 2003 when his first crop was ruined. But Iyer, who bought 4.5 acres in Peth village in Dahanu taluka about 100 km from Mumbai, soon learned that hedging his bets with multiple crops and experimenting on a smaller scale was the way forward.
(Text: Himanshi Dhawan, with additional inputs from Newton Sequeira in Goa)
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