Techie Dreams Big for High-Tech Agro

Mohan Urs, a 45-year-old techie, quit his job at JP Morgan Chase three months ago to pursue his dream

Published: 27th March 2014 08:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2014 08:25 AM   |  A+A-


Mohan Urs, a 45-year-old techie, quit his job at JP Morgan Chase three months ago to pursue his dream. He wanted to use his knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the people of his own country rather than work for an MNC. Today, he says he is on the verge of developing a proof of concept that could change the lives of farmers of his region.

Mohan is experimenting with hydroponics, a technology which helps the growth of plants in a mineral nutrient solution without soil.

Plants are grown in a controlled environment where essential nutrients are provided through the medium, which could be water or other inert substances such as coconut husk, perlite, biochar or gravel.

This technology eliminates the risk of pests, thus eliminating the need for chemical fertilisers or pesticides, he says.

 “The aim is to simulate nature in a controlled laboratory. Hence, farmers will not have to worry about excess heat, rainfall or wind wrecking the crops,” says Mohan.

 “Using hydroponics, we can grow 3-5 times the volume of crop grown using conventional agriculture methods and consume only 10 to 15 per cent of the water that we use today for the same size of land. Also, a greenhouse of size 10 by 10 ft can be used to produce 2-3 kg of crop per day. This will solve two major problems faced by farmers today---water and cultivable land scarcity,” he adds.

After three years of research on the subject, Mohan constructed a greenhouse in the city and worked on developing a low-cost technology that would enable farmers to construct greenhouses on their premises and use hydroponics to cultivate crops.

He is now in the process of shifting the unit to Chamarajanagar, a district adjacent to Mysore, where he also plans to build a retail market for farmers to sell their produce directly, without having to go through middlemen.

Farmers will have to invest a big amount for setting up the unit, he admits. “But the technology will save them a lot of money later on. So it is most assuredly worth it. Once I get the model approved by the government, I am sure banks will be willing to offer micro loans for farmers to construct greenhouses,” he says.

Mohan hopes to finalise his proof of concept by this year end and wants to demonstrate the process to horticulture department officials.

The construction of the retail market will be completed by 2015, he says.

 “I want to revolutionise the farmer-trader relationship, much like Dr Verghese Kurien did with the milk market in the country,” Mohan says.

“When we pay `40 per kg of vegetables, the farmer gets barely `5 - `10 from it. The rest of the money goes to all the middlemen involved in the selling process. I want to develop a controlled supply chain mechanism that is fair to farmers. Such a system is already in place in Tamil Nadu and I think we can bring it to Karnataka also,” he says with  a hope (Mail Mohan Urs:


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