After completing his B Tech, Abhinav Singh accepted a job offer from Microsoft and later moved to England to live a comfortable life.
But after a while, he realized that despite all the comforts a luxurious life has to offer, he missed being close to his family and friends. “I used to travel around Europe and party on weekends. It was kind of like a dream, but even though I felt happy, I never felt fulfilled,” he says.
Realizing his heart was still at home, he returned to India in 2015. Working at Microsoft’s office in Gurgaon for almost a year, Abhinav knew what he wanted to do next. So, in addition to visiting his family in Varanasi, he did his research on farming as a profession.
“Our family has been in agriculture for generations, with the exception of my father. We had a few acres of ancestral farmland in Chilbila, our home village in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh. So I thought why not take advantage of it? That’s how I started researching what to grow and eventually ended up getting into gerbera daisy growing,” says Abhinav. The best India.
Now, he sells around 2,000 gerbera flowers daily, earning him an income of Rs 1.5 lakh per month. In addition, his agricultural business supports hundreds of people in his native village.
The “flourishing” business
Before trying to grow gerberas, he says he tried organic market gardening. “But for some reason it didn’t work out and I had to abandon that plan. So I looked for a more viable product to grow and came across the idea of growing gerberas,” he adds.
He further explains, “Through my research, I realized that these flowers are in high demand in states like Uttar Pradesh, especially during the wedding season. But since they are not grown here, they mostly come from places like Pune and Bengaluru. That’s how I decided to try. »
Gerbera flowers are one of the most widely used ornamental flowers around the world. They are available in several colors and have a longer shelf life, making them an economical agricultural product. “Even after picking, the gerberas survive up to four days in summer and up to 10 days in winter, which gives us a lot of leverage unlike growing vegetables,” says the 36-year-old. .
Growing the flowers has come with a set of challenges, says Abhinav. “As it is a perennial plant, it requires cool climatic conditions. It is therefore essential to set up a polyhouse where they can be grown in a controlled environment.
To set up a 4,000 square foot polyhouse unit on one acre, he needed an investment of Rs 58 lakh for which he relied on a government scheme which offered a 50% subsidy. “Once we submit our project plan, we get a 12-month allocation during which we have to build the polyhouse, the factory [saplings] and get the grant. But it took me about two years to get the project and loan approved because gerbera daisy growing was rare where we live,” he says, adding that he received Rs 29 lakh as a government grant and that the rest was managed with the loan and his. money.
Finally, in October 2020, he planted the first batch of gerberas on his acre of land. “Almost after three months, in February 2021, we had our first harvest of gerbera flowers. Since then, there is no turning back,” he says, adding that he grows about 2,000 flowers per day with an average price of Rs 4 per flower.
Gerberas are always sold in bunches of 10 and their price fluctuates according to market demand. “The price ranges from Rs 30 per bundle to Rs 110 per bundle, mostly during the wedding season,” he adds. “Now I earn around Rs 18 lakh per year from gerberas.”
Abhinav, who grows seven different colors of gerbera daisies including red, yellow, magenta, pink, valentine pink, orange and white on his farm, says, “The quality we have managed to produce is comparable to that grown in Bengaluru and Pune. , which have the best quality in India.
“I market it from Varanasi as there is more connectivity with different parts of the country like Delhi, Pune, Bengaluru. Also, it serves as a key point for several nearby districts like Azamgarh, Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Chandauli, etc. “, he adds.
His gerbera farm also provides direct and indirect livelihoods to several farmers in the village of Chilbila. “Getting into agriculture was something I had always dreamed of. At the same time, I always wanted to provide livelihood for at least a few villagers through my farming business,” he says.
“Now we have about 40 field workers who help us with agricultural work and there are more than 30 who are involved in packing, transport, etc. In total, there are almost 100 people who work for us in the village,” he said. elaborate.
Kusum Devi, a 28-year-old man from Chilbila village who has been working at the gerbera farm for a year, says: “It was difficult to manage the expenses at home with my husband’s meager salary who works as a tractor driver. . . But since I started working here, I have been earning a regular income of Rs 6,000 per month. Now I can take care of all household expenses.
Talking about his plans, Abhinav says, “In the future, I would also like to expand my business to growing organic vegetables. Also, my dream is to transform my farm into a resort-village promoting agrotourism,” he says.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)