The Story


It all started during the 2009 Memorial Day weekend. I was on a road trip with my brother from North Carolina to Michigan, it was a long drive and we had a lot of time to expend. The week before I had bought a new Iphone and was browsing my e-mails when I came across an interesting post in the LinkedIn group ‘Waste to Energy’. The post was about the Californian government’s initiative of generating electricity using waste food across Bay Area’s restaurants and hotels. The plant was recycling 1000 tons of food per week and was adding ‘green’ power to the grid. The technology was basically a commercial adaptation of anaerobic digestion of waste.

Having grown up in the foothills of Dehradun and studied at The Doon School, we felt strongly about sustainability and conservation of resources. These had just remained a passion and we ended up being techie workers in US – my brother working for a well known IT consulting company and I was employed by a leading semiconductor company. This LinkedIn post rekindled an old desire and we wondered if we could somehow participate in the Green energy sector.  Both of us believed that one could not go wrong with Energy and Land in India since both will remain in high demand in the foreseeable future. This marked our journey to chase the ‘Green Dream’.

After considering several technologies and processes (Bio-methanation, Bio-fuels and Biogas),we started to research Biomass. It started with an study on biomass based power generation in Tamil Nadu. There were almost 25 firms that were producing power (most of them captive) and adding residual power to the grid back in 2001-02. There were a handful of companies that were using only biomass available in the market but had gone out of business by 2005-06 due to rising feedstock price. As the industry developed, feedstock price rose multiple times from Rs 1000/ ton to Rs 4500 per ton. In the crisis of these struggling power plants we discovered opportunity and persevered.  The industry consensus was to have captive farms to generate biomass. In essence, that would ensure minimal impact of feedstock market dynamics. After preliminary feasibility studies, the numbers looked attractive and soon we set off on our chase for the perfect land.

’After- dinner research’ time and midnight phone calls from US to land real estate agents in India became routine over the next several months.  Our dad canvassed over 40,000 kms across the state of Tamil Nadu and after 100+ land visits while I was still in US, we found our perfect land. We cannot thank dad enough for this herculean task! Our ideal land was in Sivagangai(Tamil Nadu). The land had rich red soil, good water availability and enormous potential to augment our acreage. Be sure to check out some of our initial postings to see the ‘before’ pictures of the land. I hope the ‘after’ pictures will be much more appealing J

My blog will comprise of 2 primary categories – Experiences and Developmental Activities. Our experiences, good or bad will be published as well as updates from ground zero as we make progress. Under the ‘Useful Info and ‘Links’ sections, you’ll find interesting information and facts about agricultural practices as I discover these myself.

Apart from being a business venture, I also hope to disseminate knowledge about agriculture, energy crops and eventually power generation through my blog. Posts will be kept short for an easy read with lots of pictures and I hope to share my experiences with others who are planning a similar venture or follow our developments.

Thanks for visiting and hope you enjoy the blog...

62 comments:

  1. Dear

    Your story of generating power through agri waste or bio mass is very interesting. You have rightly pointed out that due to rising prices of biomass numerous companies have to abandon their projects. If you have your own land sufficient for feeding your power generation plant, then raw material supply related problem would be minimal.

    Many Thanks for sharing your experience ans story.

    S.S Sekhon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How much land does it need for producing raw material for 1MW to 10MW Biomass Plant

      Delete
  2. Good luck with your project.
    See this website:
    http://goodnewsindia.com/pointreturn/online/mission/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Is it possible to be in love with a blog? Because I love your blog...you write so well and its all so very useful....PLEASE write a post exclusively on how to go about buying agriculture land. Also maybe a little bit more about you.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  4. @Kitchen Garden,
    Thanks for your comment. I will try to give DOs and DONTs of land searching (based on my experience) but there is no simple way of finding good agri lands. The process is long and tedious and one needs to be patient - it took me one year. Procuring land from small marginal farmers is most challenging since most of the times they do not have proper documentation (which can be bankable if you are taking a loan) and somebody always plays spoilsport with the price. Look out for an article on this in the coming weeks.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good Blog. vey nice knowledge trnasfer to others.
    What are the the crops you identified to grow
    in your land.

    Are you trying to integrate power project of
    your own with the crops you are trying grow?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello,

    I am very much impressed with your progress. I too bought 130 acres of land in Theni district in 2010, after a long search for 7 years. I live in abroad. Since I depend on others, the work progress is slow. I would like to request help on 3 issues:

    1. Identification of water for borewell: How did you undertake this task? Any scientific method to used(minimize / avoid failures) or traditional way in which luck plays a major part. Also, could you provide the contact details for this, if you could recommend someone

    2. My land is also sandy red soil and for more than 150 feet it is soil without any rock. So, many borewell people (local) here say, the rod will get stuck in the sand & hence not willing to take the risk. I think, there should be a better way to do borewell. Could you suggest the contact persons please?

    3. I have already applied for 6 agri-service for EB. But looks like it is NOT EASY & anticipate taking years to get the EB connection. Is there any economically viable alternatives did you consider or will you wait for the EB?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi,

      In case you are still looking.
      http://www.indiawaterportal.org/sites/indiawaterportal.org/files/bore_well_faq.pdf

      Delete
    2. This is a great resource, answers most FAQs. Thanks for sharing..

      Delete
  7. why don't you plastic waste instead of your materials (coir,paddy waste,etc)? This can minimize your land requirement as well? Please give me your thoughts on this...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Plastic waste as manure? Can you please elaborate?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Accidentally came thru the blog when browsing in the farmnet forum, I can't stop appreciating your passion to do something different. I really appreciate your efforts in sharing the knowledge.

    regards,
    phani.Y

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for the kind words, Phani..I am glad you enjoy the blog and hopefully you will gain something from the info posted here. Do share the blog with others as well!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This post and site sounded like Deja Vu for me. And seeing comments from so many people on this mounting stress, dissatisfaction and 'waste of life' experience in IT sector, I feel so good that I'm not alone. We have come so far away from 'life', there is no other alternative than going back to it. Reading about what you have done certainly adds to my courage. I will be calling you up sometime for a brief talk. Thanks once again.

    Cheers,
    Rakesh(Bangalore)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Rakesh,
    Thanks for your comments. Feel free to call me at 94450 76595. I am glad this blog has been useful to you and encourages you to do something different as well. It is not an easy road but definitely more fulfilling. Do subscribe to my blog and get regular updates (well fairly regular!) and share it with other like minded folks..

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello Sir,

    I was finding a place on this blog to contact you.

    At last I got this,
    your blog is very useful and inspirational. I have learnt a lot out of it.

    I have been through your article: recipe for making EM.

    I was a bit confused, if EM is to be addes to 1 litre of water and ground jaggery. or it itself becomes the EM.

    please help me through this.

    My email id happypankaj@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Tks a wonderful research and a good project. We do have a project for the common man to safeguard his food requirement. we have launched a novel project for the benefit of our future generation. please visit our site
    www.greenbeltindia.com.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi, I wish to know whether you do precision farming?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are many aspects involved in precision farming, for example drip irrigation, hybrid seeds, portrays cultivation etc which we have executed already..

      Delete
    2. Hi, Do you have any economies of precision farming...i.e. per acre - initial investment required and per acre maintenance cost and profit?

      Delete
    3. That is a tough question to answer, since savings/increase in yield (profit) depends on the crop.
      I really cannot give you a number since drip cost is based on your design, crop etc..but 20,000 per acre would be a realistic figure for orchard crops (typically drips for veggies is more exp due to higher density and expensive inline pipes)
      Treat investment on drip as a sunk cost rather than calculating a ROI on it. I guess you can google what is the yield increase for your crop using drip and then calculate your ROI..

      Delete
    4. Thanks. We are holding 100 acres of agriland near pollachi and wish to go for Precision Farming. From you experiance, What will be your advice? You can suggest any better farming activities than precision farming? And also, I know you are based in Shivagangai area. We are planning for bamboo plantation to support our biomass based power plant. How much is the land cost over Shivagangai at present. I heard that the Shivagagai area is a dry area as there is no water availability. Is it true?

      Delete
    5. could you share your email ID or phone number ?

      Delete
    6. poulose.wilson@gmail.com

      Delete
  16. Hi,

    I am also one of the enthusiast from an IT industry to get into multiple farming keep dairy farming as centralized source of income. I am planning to setup a dairy farm along with horticulture in and around bangalore (100kms). One of my friend suggested that there is good demand on export of these. Can you please share any related info on this.

    Regards,
    Naveen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, I do not know much about Dairy as yet. I do not think marketing milk will be an issue but make sure you have dedicated and captive labor to take care of the farm. Although a lot of things can be mechanized in dairy, you still need a few people to manage a decent sized dairy.

      Delete
  17. Hi,

    My friend and I are also planning to enter energy production in India using waste collected by our own company. As waste management in India is not as developed as it is in USA, I think it has a huge potential. I am more geared toward organizing India as it has huge opportunities with FDI now open. I did a research on Waste Management Inc. and found out that they produce energy and gas with the waste they collect. Is there any Indian company that is involved in such business? I am asking you because you already did extensive research on energy production in India.
    About me: I also grew up in Himalayas where I attended Bishop Cotton School, Shimla. Currently I am studying at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and I don't really want to follow common business school route i.e. Investment Banking, Wall Street.
    Please do let me know if this business is viable as my friend who will invest in my business is American and I don't want to blow his investment. Also, how are government subsidies for energy production? Is government helpful at all? Thank you so much for reading this.

    Regards,
    Nova

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nova,
      Good to know you are ex-BCS. Unfortunately, I do not know any cos in India that are generating power from Waste in a commercial way. There is a Waste to Energy group in Linkedin that you may want to follow.
      Dealing with govt can be tricky. Windy energy industry in Tamil Nadu has been hit hard due to govt's lackluster attitude and inability to make payments on time to the producers. Feel free to mail me at saverafarms@gmail.com if you have any further questions.

      Delete
  18. I am glad I came across this blog.. By the way, may be like many of you, I am one of those IT folks in some premier multinational corporation in Chennai.

    For several months now these thoughts are racking my brain..so I want to share with you all with my thoughts and questions..

    I think something in the IT industry, that is fueling the line of thought to get out and work with nature.

    While we could blame it all on stress of deadlines, escalations and the bitterness that every evening we login to a toll free bridge for hours together listening to some moron, rambling on his ppt slide after slide..Right in front of your eyes, a beautiful evening withered away, where we could have played with that beautiful child of ours.

    At the same time the industry has paid a fat salary compared to our cousins who is working as a mechanical engineer in a local factory.

    Let me come to the point..for us to be thinking of this land and agri stuff..are we assuming a financial stability at mid forties or have we reached a state of contentment that we are ready to get our hands dirty? (no pun intended).. How do we convince our family members, especially my innocent wife who has no clue of any of these eco, bio or the green terminologies that I would be stepping into? Let me stop here..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sridhar,
      I would not be able to help you on that question :)
      I did not have to convince anybody except myself..which is way easier.

      Delete
  19. I was searching for the Oomathai ( Datura ) and I came to this blog. I am somewhat a frequent blogger, but I haven't seen a blog for farming ( Agri ). This line of business is very new to me. I am a BizDev Mgr in a IT cos. In spite of the farming being alien to me, I spent a considerable amount to time in your blog. Your story of great, the NC to Mich- turned to be NC to Sivagangai and I see this was a rough road you traveled.

    This field is out of my radar, but life is always full of uncertainties.

    It was nice time to spent on ur blog.

    Best,
    Ravi

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi,

    You have an interesting/inspiring blog and informative website.

    I am a Marine Engineer and after about 11 years at sea took up a shore/office job in Dubai which I completely detest! Have been thinking about getting into farming for some time now and was collecting information on same when I came across this website. After I quit sailing I completed a MSc in Energy and Environmental Technology and so have a little information regarding renewables. Idea is so set up a sustainable farm and community. But I find the biggest hurdle in doing this, is to acquire farm land in India if you are a non-farmer. Would appreciate if you can elaborate your experience on this.

    rgds,

    RP

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RP,
      Land procurement is def. one of the toughest hurdles. Read our exp. at http://techie2aggie.blogspot.in/2011/06/crash-course-101-for-people-looking-for.html

      Hope it helps..

      Delete
  21. Hi

    I am raising watermelon on 15 acres and and have some questions regarding watermelon cracking and misformed melons. How do I reach your farm in sivaganga or could you share me your telephone number or can you kindly call me at 09840904691.

    Thanks

    Sethu Rayer

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sethu,
    Check out the posts under short term crops tag. There should be some info on cracking. You can call me at 94450 76595 after 8 pm.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hello and thank you for your posting. Your blog is interesting. Do keep writing. Sanjana

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hello Mr...... :-)
    Sorry dont know ur name. I have been following your blogs for quite some time now and I must congragulate you for your good work. I am very much impressed and motivated too. I have decided to follow your foot steps. Need to learn a lot more from you brother. I am planning to start a agro farm ditto like yours with timber trees, veg and fruit plus sheep n goat farms, but i feel theory isnt enough, so request you if I can visit your farm once to get a first hand experience. I would be really greatful to u. I have been living abroad most of my life (UAE) and have settled down in india now, I am living in Bangalore at present. Please do let me know if I can make a days visit to your lovely farm.
    Regards

    Syed

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your appreciation. Kindly email me on info@saverafarms.com

      Delete
  25. Agriculture/Horticulture i.e cultivation of intensive crops is not an easy task. The IT professionals thinking of better returns from unknown new ventures has become a regular feature.As an experienced cultivation expert, i am expressing my difficult knowledge.
    Don't go for intensive cultivation.Kindly plan for long term: tree crop cultivation like Casuarina,Subabul, Eucalyptas,Teak crops after getting proper enquery over a considerable time and spending at least for 10% of the proposed project cost.from: dbsrao47@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like any new venture, horticulture related activities require unconditional and total attention in the first few years and significant amount of promoter's time in the later years. People often underestimate this leading to mismanagement of the project. Additionally, you have vagaries of nature on which you have no control..

      Delete
  26. Dear All
    Let Me share my experience in goat farming to the aspiring entrepreneurs.

    We purchased some 3 acres of land for industry purpose in bidadi.Bangalore.since the land is in good water belt with abundant water we thought of doing agriculture.i was having zero knowledge on agriculture and started doing vegetable farming.spent quite a money on buying seeds and burnt my fingers,because we tried multiple crops with out proper proper fertilizer and pest management.Since the knowledge is only here say like.
    later we have grown potatoes and discovered that even though the retail price is 14 rs a kg no shop fellow was ready to buy more than 5 Rs a kg.finally we gave the potato yield to a ashram in tumkur to get some mental satifaction.since we could not get financial rewards.
    After almost 9 months of experimenting with vegetables unsucessfully one of my friend told to have some goats in farm to take care of the labour salary.to get an income from the goat sale (approximately 60 k per annum )
    When i searched in net,i found a person offering training and attended that and understood that there is a big returns on that.
    i went to see so many farms in karnataka,tamilnadu and kerala and found so many farms are running successful.
    To learn the basics we purchased some goats with out even knowing the breed and started growing.in the first week itself we had a mortality becs of cold and fever.inspite of searching we cd not find a vet at given point of that time.
    later we learnt the medicines from the medical shop and administered the medicines (injection).In the process my driver became doctor!!.After going through the training manual and internet we discovered that we should administer vaccines PPR in the month of june /july and brought the vaccines from hebbal and administered.
    To our bad luck all the kids born in our farm totalling 11 kids died after the PPR exersice due to running nose and breathing trouble.May be we shd not administer to kids and sick animal is the experience gained.
    Then we started the erection of elevated shed with lot of fotos help which i took during my visit to various farms.Since the power is only 3 hrs in a day time we hired generators to do the welding and incured aditional expense to finish the job.The welding person agreed for 85Rs a kg for the work and started the work.After completing the work he came up with a bill for wire mesh instalion at 35 Rs per square feet with we never discussed (sq feet basis)After alot of arguements paid 80k extra through nose!! At this point of time already two labours left for want of better salaries.we found a family who agreed to work for 8k per month with free house power and water in our farm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The first set of telacherry goats and boer we purchased from tamilnadu farm 25 female and one male along with our natti goats 25 numbers totalling 50.The wodden planks which we fixed in the shed was not uniform gap (some one inch gap)and not suited for natti goats.(lean toe)becs of this the goat used legs used to get struck in between the planks and disturbing the labour at odd times at night.We started rectifying that.with in a month of working he wanted to quit the job becs he is not able to go out on sundays and its a 365 days job.

      In spite of we offering 10k he was not in mood to continue and he left.Now i had no other option other than staying in the farm in rotation with my driver and supevisor for almost 45 days!!we searched in the blogs and found one satish nambiar in dindugal and lost around 10 k becs of his poor service!!
      Then we found two men and agreed to pay 7k each becs we were desperate!(cost wotking sheet says 8 k per family for 150 goats)My home is 35 kms away from farm.and my tim is reqd in the industry which i run!

      overall experince is quite challenging.with one way road of pumping money and no returns!i conceived and dreamed of making very big and ended up with lot of experience.lot more i missed may be i need to publish a book??
      please dont get in to any agri activity if you cannot devote your time fully and ready to work on the field!!!
      This techie2aggie blog is quite interesting.its inspiring me to persue my dream even though me down at this point of time.........

      Arunachalam
      Bangalore

      Delete
    2. Thanks Arunachalam for sharing your experience. Hope to learn from your mistakes as I am eager to switch to Farming from IT field.

      Delete
  27. Hi ,

    I consider myself to be fortunate to have come across your blogs and other members experiences. Its a nice to see people supporting each other through their experiences and suggestions.

    I am planning to go for Ultra high density mango plantation over 4 acre field near Dharwad (Karnataka state).
    It took sometime to convince my parents and brother to pursue "UHDP"
    I am planning to go for 3M*3M spacing with fully drip irrigation

    My question is - can I do some intercultivation or plant papaya inbetween the 3m*3m spacing until the mango trees are 4 years old?
    That way I can keep my Dad and brother happy as well (their main concern was - no income would come until the mango trees starts yeilding).

    Appreciate anyone for their advice.

    Best wishes and warm regards,
    Sharan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do not think it is a great idea to mix papaya with mango. Within rows is obviously not possible for the ease of tractor etc. Plant ot plant may be possible, however, irrigation and fertigation schedule will be different for the two. Moreover, you run the risk of mango getting infected by papaya induced diseases.

      Delete
    2. Congrats on the new kid.

      Thanks for your valuable feedback
      As far as intercultivation goes - I shall not cultivate within rows but will consider the option of plant-to-plant (and also take care of running parallel drip line). If papaya has the risk of infecting mango saplings, then what are my other options?
      If nothing is suitable for intercultivation - then I shall think of reducing the spacing by 3mt*2mt and plant in 3 acres and the rest 1 acre I would go for papaya and Moringa (high density again).
      My dad and brother are concerned about waiting for 4 years and also non-seasonal returns.
      I am also thinking of having 2~4 cows (for diary)? any suggestions on that front?
      Looking forward to hear from you.

      Regards,
      Sharan

      Delete
    3. I would suggest going for separate plots of mango and papaya.
      Do not have a detailed knowledge of dairy yet but ensure you have enough fodder and manpower. I believe you need an acre of fodder for 5 animals.

      Delete
    4. Thanks for your prompt responses.
      As suggested I would go for 3 acres of Mango and 1 acre for papaya (or something else) - as far as diary is concerned, I am getting a lot of pushback from dad and brother.
      Anyways will wait on that.
      Will keep you posted in the coming months.

      Delete
  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hai,i like very much about your work.i read about your life journey in magazine.you are one of the role model for youngsters those having interest in agriculture.i am the Admin of the face book page The Farmer-உழவன். i post article about you in my page before 2 months,at that time i got more likes and comments for that post.many of people appreciate you.i convey my page fans wishes to you.i appreciate you and your supporters for this valuable service.Farming is not a work,it's service.today many of the youngsters are studied and focused on corporate company jobs.In that time farming is big ? mark in future.because any country in world failed to make the food products ,it will purely depend on other country.Today most of the people are standing in front of corporate offices to sit in white collar jobs.but you are different.my best wishes for your bright future.my father is full time farmer in tuticorin,tamilnadu. i also work with him on week ends and holidays.my vision is to crate big farming system in future.any way i want keep with good relation with you.i am also willing to meet. pls give your contact no.Let's be friends. .ok friend.bye

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi,

    Great work.. Everyone from agri to IT field will talk proudly about agri and will say ready for agri, but no one will ready to leave the IT job.But you did it :-) My prayers for you to get a very bright future :-)

    Nayaki

    ReplyDelete
  31. hi..very interesting story...thank you so much for sharing so much information through this blog. I m Chartered Accountant by qualification but very much interested in farming. However agri land with good infra (like fencing, borewell, drip) cost around 15 lacs per acre in our area. What would be the pay back period i shall expect? pls reply..

    Regards,

    Sandeep

    ReplyDelete
  32. Our country needs more and more young educated youths like Mr.Johri rejuvenate agriculture. New thoughts and approaches could only make agriculture sustainable.Young educated aspirants with persistence and patience could alone make it as a profession. It is a daily learning process. Continuous learning and learning from mistake one could make you master the profession.Though it looks so simple on documents reality is that there are too many variable some of which are beyond our control. Hope and positive attitude could only make farming a joyful profession,

    ReplyDelete
  33. I was in the same boat until Sep 2009 working for Southern California Edison, Los Angeles, CA working in the nuclear power plant. I discovered my passion for agriculture and returned to India and left everything behind. I now hold 100 acres natural/ Organic Farm in Zahirabad.. 100kms from Hyderabad. I own 30 cows Gir, Kankrej and Ongole breeds.. From this year i started making profits. I sell my mango produce to known references and people at a very good price and expecting good returns from 2014..
    Give me your email id OP (techie2aggie).. prudviraj@herbavaley.com, www.herbavaley.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hi,

    I wish to visit your land and understand some nuances of this field..where it is located and when would be an ideal time and day to visit and meet. I am from Pudukkottai working at Alagappa University - IL&FS Institute of Skills, Karaikudi

    Raja Ganesh. M
    9787854557

    ReplyDelete
  35. It’s truly a nice and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.
    Welding Electrode Plant and Machineries Exporter

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks very much for offering excellent information here... I like your website. Thanks very much and keep publishing..... I'm looking forward to your new material.
    Welding Electrode Plant and Machineries Exporter

    ReplyDelete
  37. Excellent article..keep sharing!!!
    http://agriculturalinformation4u.blogspot.in

    ReplyDelete
  38. how to send my plantation photos and details in this forum pl advice

    ReplyDelete
  39. I have completed the mango plantation (Through HD plantation-4mt*3mts-each) on august 2015 in 10 Acres.
    verities is Banganpalli(benishan), big rasalu, himayat pasand, daseri and some of kottapalli kobbera
    around 380 plants per acer and the sige of plant in January,15 is like this. the pits are 2ft*2ft and depth 3ft, filled with potash, vermicompost and top soil and after plantation we provided neam cake in the pots.
    on December month we went inter cropping with some vestibules and frueties like water million etc.
    And now i am planning to adopt drip irrigation before summer i.e march.

    pl advice for the plant management.

    ReplyDelete
  40. how can i attach photos pl advice

    ReplyDelete