I hope this serves as a basis for all to realize that the youth can revolutionize the agribusiness industry and make a big economic impact.
Rahul Gala loves technology. And he loves it so much that he has transformed the methods of agriculture in the arid region of Kutch. Today, he logs on to his computer in the morning, feeds in the data and that’s it. The rest is taken care by the system—right from the irrigation to fertigation in his farm.
After returning from Australia to his native village Ratual (near Bhuj), Gala aimed to become an agri-entrepreneur. What helped in installing this technology was his degree in horticulture from Queensland University in Australia. He exploited an untapped opportunity and transformed the dynamics of methods of production.
Currently, he grows ‘barhi’ (a fresh variety of dates) over 12 acres of land and has sown more than 600 date plants. Each plant is expected to produce 50-70 kg of dates, which is set for despatch to Europe and Dubai under his brand Golden Dates. What’s more surprising is that fellow farmers near his village are getting accustomed to his technology and are increasingly becoming e-producers.
“Agriculture is going to create huge opportunities in India. The need is dynamism and professionalism,” says Gala. Many including Reliance, Essar and Atul Group have shown interest in his technology. “But I like to work on my own methods and a create sense of ownership among farmers,” he adds. He has already tied-up with seven super-specialty stores in Mumbai to supply dates and mangoes and is set to invest close to Rs 6 crore in cold-storage facilities to keep his produce fresh for exports.
Agriculture in India is transforming its practices. As young and charged-up entrepreneurs are joining the fray, commodities are being turned into value-added products and premium prices can be demanded from various retail outlets. With the same available resources, young entrepreneurs are modifying their business-models and exploiting market opportunities to improve their lifestyles. This is not only helping the entrepreneur but also encouraging farmers to shift to a better world.
With a hope to make south Gujarat (an NRI-belt) the rose hub of the country, Kumar Patel returned to his village Kutched (25 kms from Valsad) after working with a few consulting firms in the US. Now Patel, at 34, has just roped in 15 rose producing villagers and entered into a buy-back arrangement with them to market their products under his popular brand—’Best Roses’.
His Rs 15 crore rose company has already started exporting to Japan, Holland, Europe, Dubai and the US with many more negotiations going on. Patel, who is also an MBA from San Francisco, recently established a hydroponics plant (the first in India) in his rose garden.
“Most of the farmers are illiterate and belong to our community which has been, for some time, baffled with conventional sugarcane and paddy production. Now, they are earning more than 40% profits by growing quality roses,” says Patel.
He adds that the strength of his business lies in having more units from the region to compete in the global market since labour is cheaper and his village is geographically well-placed to for timely cargo movement. Best Roses produces nearly 10 million roses per annum at an average market price of Rs 3.50 per stem, mostly imported from Kenya. It offers a range of roses—bugatti, aloha, aqua, avalance, Bordeaux, among others.