Does hydroponics have the potential to become mainstream in India?

Hydroponics is still not a widely-practiced technique in India, owing to the traditional nature of farming, high-initial set-up cost, lack of technical know-how, lack of awareness, and the complexity of the technology. However, the most crucial inhibiting factor is the mindset.  

“Farmers believe that some staple crops and vegetables cannot be grown successfully without good soil/water, and plenty of sunlight,” said Akanksha Priyadarshini, co-founder, Food Revolution, a group of growers, innovators, foodies and plant ‘romantics’. 

“In my personal experience, they are not susceptible to change. Over 50 percent of the population, with very limited know-how and low awareness levels, is engaged in agriculture,” added Dhruv Khanna, co-founder, Triton Foodworks, a brand that stands for clean growing, accountable farming, and reliable supply of produce.

“We emphasize doing hydroponics in tier I and tier II type cities only. It is only an urban-centric concept with respect to the cost of the economy because the cost per kg would be somewhere about INR 30-40, so you have to sell it for over INR 100/kg. Only then you will be able to make something out of it. Hence, currently and in the future also, I don't see that it will be as beneficial in the rural areas,” said Vivek Shukla, co-founder, Rise Hydroponics, controlled environment agriculture, and EPC project developer in hydroponic farming and soil-less farming.

As per the National Horticulture Board, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, hydroponics does qualify for assistance, subject to projects covering 1,000 m2 in case of protected cultivation. The policy guideline states: “However, for capital intensive and high-value crops under protected cultivation and open-air cultivation of date palm, olive and saffron subsidy will be @ 25% of project cost with a ceiling of Rs.50 lakh (33% of project cost with ceiling of Rs.60 lakh for scheduled and hilly areas).” 

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