Recently, eyes of social media caught an urban farmer of Madhya Pradesh. We all love eating strawberries, but apart from just eating them, he had different plans in his mind. He starts growing strawberries hydroponically in his 3,000 sq ft (0.03 ha) farm and successfully managed to get 70 % more return from the crop.
There are numerous success stories of farmers growing their crops hydroponically. Hydroponic crop production is more profitable than conventional farming because of advantages like pesticide-free production, soil-less growing condition, minimal or no pest entry, efficient use of resources and controlled environment.
Market research shows that the global hydroponic market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22.5% between 2019 to 2025 due to the increasing demand for hygienic and hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables. Here are five cash crops that you can grow in your urban farm to get more profit.
Microgreens are quite popular in the younger generation for their high nutritional content. The reason behind calling them microgreens is that they are physically smaller than the matured plant
The microgreens prove to be a better choice when grown commercially, restaurants being the largest marketplace, can buy microgreens at the rate as high as Rs 150-200 per 100gm of microgreens.
The advantage of growing microgreens is that they get ready for harvest in just one to two weeks and requires comparably much smaller space for their cultivation.
The demand for exotic leafy vegetables such as lettuce is steadily increasing, as the consumer purchasing power is improving. Retail companies like KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut have a high demand for lettuce crops which boosts the sales in the market.
If we take an example of a lettuce crop like iceberg lettuce, it has a market price ranging from Rs 80-120 per head. Lettuce crops are comparably richer in nutritional content than other crops, making them a desirable choice for organic food consumers. Romaine lettuce, butterhead lettuce, iceberg lettuce all the varieties have their health benefits.
Lettuce crops can be grown comfortably in a hydroponic system using the nutrient film technique (NFT).
Basil is known for its lovely fragrance as it adds great taste in any dish when put in. You can choose to grow a whole variety of basil such as Sweet basil, Lemon basil, Purple basil, Italian basil, Thai basil. Herbs are more profitable for market growers.
Italian basil and Purple basil are the types which are widely grown commercially. Hydroponically grown Italian basil has a market price between Rs 40-60 per 50gm. Majority of the harvest is bought by the multi-cuisine restaurants, as they use it in various recipes.
Basil can be readily grown in a hydroponic system; with 10-12 hours of light, anyone can grow high-quality basil in their urban hydroponic farm.
The leaves of the coriander plant refer to cilantro. Cilantro is a primary ingredient of countless Indian dishes. Hydroponically grown fresh cilantro can be distinguished easily between others in the market.
The quality and taste of hydroponically grown cilantro are unmatched, and the result of this is its higher price in the market. Farm fresh hydroponic cilantro have high demand among consumers and sold between Rs 40-60 per 100gm. The foremost consumers are restaurants and retail food companies.
Some consumers preferred to buy vegetables online, and nearly all add 'cilantro' in their cart.
Tulips are among the most expensive flowers in the world. In India, the price for one tulip flower ranges between Rs 70-100 and a bunch of tulips may cost around Rs 600.
The reason tulip has such a high price because it is a seasonal flower and blooms only in summers. But with hydroponic technique; the cut flower growers can grow it well in regions having unfavourable climate. The advantage of growing tulips in a hydroponic farm is that it requires less space and grows quicker.