TIRUPATI: Meet 23-year-old Sandeep Kannan, a young farmpreneur from Tirupati, who is striving to deliver nutritious, clean and pesticide-free leafy vegetables to the residents of Tirupati. Unlike his peers, who are now preparing for competitive exams, Sandeep, after completing his BSc Agriculture from Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) has set up an ‘urban farm’ called ‘Vyavasayi Bhoomi’ and started farming in his half-an-acre agriculture land at Thanapalle. He is cultivating vegetables through Polyhouse Hydroponic farming.
Lettuce, spinach, red amaranath, kale basil, broccoli, pak choi (Chinese cabbage) are some of the leafy vegetables being cultivated by Sandeep at his farmland.Speaking to TNIE, Sandeep said the vegetables grown using Polyhouse Hydroponic farming are rich in nutrients and fibre when compared to the products cultivated through organic farming.
“This kind of farming involves less cost and the plants are grown in a temperature-controlled system that provides enough nutrient supplements for their growth,’’ he said. Sandeep said, “Unlike traditional farming practices, Hydroponic farming involves soil-less cultivation thus allowing the farmers to get a better yield on their investments. After sowing seedlings in net cups, the plants are allowed to grow in a man-made environment for 45 to 60 days and then the plants are ready for harvest.”
He said hydroponic farm produce is regarded as beyond organic farming in terms of quality and quantity. In organic farming, farmers use baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and neem oil for killing pests but in hydroponics farming the percentage of pests striking plants is minimal as it is soilless farming and involves a controlled environment.
Sandeep added that the vegetables grown through the Hydroponic farming are in great demand in metro cities like Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. “People in Tirupati are slowly adapting to the shift by including it in a portion of healthy meals and in this regard, the plants grown at our farmland are being made available at supermarkets and through door-delivery in the city.”
Of late, the urban farmland maintained by Sandeep has become a source of knowledge sharing centre for students who aspire to become farmers by providing them visits to his farmhouse and teaching the techniques of the Polyhouse Hydroponics farming.