Young Horticulture researcher explores his enterprising side | Milaap

Young Horticulture researcher explores his enterprising side

With glimmer in eyes, and determination in voice, the young research scholar, sweating profusely from the labour-intensive tasks of weeding and manuring, said to me on one usual workday at our research field, “I will not just do Horticulture, Manaswita Di. I will spread it.” I, who herself had also been engrossed in the arduous manual labour, didn’t pay much heed to his words then; instead, I asked Sourav, the fellow scientist, for the link to a recently uploaded video clip by a popular YouTube channel about seasonal flower crops. He handed me a link, only two months later from that date, to a freshly made clip on the cultivation aspects of Dahlias, that had been created and uploaded by none other than Sourav himself.

Image 1. A glimpse of Sourav's “Horticulture World” as viewed by me on YouTube

I was stunned, happy obviously for a fellow Horticulturist, but it did come across as a pleasantly big surprise, invoking a lot of emotion and admiration, for, this was something quite overwhelmingly new for us. Till then to most of us, YouTube had been nothing greater than a medium for getting our daily dose of entertainment and information. But to use it in disseminating education and training was quite a leap for our kind. Apart from extending online training in the various facets and intricacies of Horticultural farming, Sourav also imparts guidance to people through his channel, in selecting the correct planting material, media, compost, and manure, suited to their needs, desires, affordability, and most importantly the agro-climatic suitability.

Image 2. Sourav while taking his viewers and subscribers on a virtual tour of a prominent nursery in West Bengal (Source- Horticulture World)

Sourav has always been quite ahead of us, be it in quality of research, depth of planning, or the amount of efforts he puts in. But for a young inexperienced guy, coming from a humble background and lesser means, Sourav is way too progressive in thinking and in his actions. Although he’s grown up seeing his family engaged in the cultivation of cereals and oilseeds, Sourav was clear in his thoughts from the very beginning that he wasn’t going to be working on the conventional crops that didn’t yield much return anyway. He rather looked forward to making inroads in Horticulture and making his surroundings brighter and more fragrant than ever, indirectly doing justice to his name which also happens to denote fragrance in Bengali. Besides, Horticulture could help him boost his household income. And this, he knew for sure, would open up far more avenues for him and his family and also immensely help all those clueless Horticulture pursuers who had the passion but lacked the benefit of a degree or diploma training in the same. He didn’t ever restrict himself to the class lectures or library corridors. There always remained a greater probability of finding him inside a greenhouse, or at an open field, studying the moisture status of soil, or the texture of the foliage. He was good at inferring plant symptoms and quite skilfully explained to others wherein lies the secret of better crop productivity and management. This quality of his’ has helped people in the past, and now has been lending support to the green thumb of over 37,000 subscribers from not only the state of West Bengal but also from the neighbouring state of Bangladesh and all over the world wherever Bengali diasporas reside. Some of his videos have over 3 lakh views, and the number of viewers, as well as subscriptions, keeps growing on each passing day. Most of Sourav’s YouTube videos (Channel-Horticulture World) are articulated in Bengali because of his lack of proficiency in the Queen’s language.

Image 3. Sourav with a few of his followers at a plant lovers' meet in Kolkata, West Bengal.

However, he has decided to develop his English speaking abilities in order to widen his reach. Besides having been a full-time Ph.D. researcher and a YouTuber, Sourav has also started a tiny entrepreneurial venture of his’ through way of mushroom cultivation and sale.

Image 4. Oyster variety of mushroom being cultivated at Sourav's house for sale

He also provides training to people and keeps encouraging them to start their own mushroom selling business, which can actually help raise a household income to quite a satisfactory extent. When asked why he is creating his own competition when he could practically enjoy a monopoly over it in his area and surroundings, Sourav replied, “I have adopted Ratan Tata’s quote as my life’s mantra, “If you want to walk fast, walk alone, but if you want to walk far, walk together”.”  

Image 5. A middle-aged student of Sourav's, now a close associate and in the way of setting up a mushroom producing and selling enterprise of his own.

Sourav has also done away with the use of the hazardous inorganic pesticides and adopted the practice of bio-pesticide application on the few croplands his family happens to own, which is without a doubt a really brave step considering the fact that bio-pesticides are susceptible to environmental stresses and may demonstrate a lower efficacy and rate of control compared to the conventional ones, because he feels as Agri-horticulturists we should act more responsibly towards our environment and thus inspire others.

Image 6. Sourav with his share of Gladiolus, the remarkable Sword Lilies

He has also been actively helping various small nurseries and farms situated in varied locations of West Bengal with technical support, for e.g. Bhairab Nursery of Jirat, Hooghly; Shanti Nursery of Jirat, Hooghly; Bhagyalaxmi Nursery of Sealdah; Sudhir Nursery of Habra, North 24 Parganas; etc. These small and medium enterprises have been able to expand their technology as well as business through Sourav’s keen guidance.

Image 7. A nursery in Bengal that Sourav helped grow from strength to strength

Extending support to these and many other nurseries has proven to be rewarding for Sourav as well. It instilled in him a passion and ignited his deep embedded interest to set up his own nursery that would supply Horticulture enthusiasts all over India with supreme quality plants at reasonable prices. Not only that, he plans on being associated with the plants’ maintenance even after their sale by providing post-sale advice to his customers, so that the plants get to live a long and healthy life even after leaving his nursery. His long term plans include developing an online nursery and information desk, so as to guide people with plant purchase, care, and maintenance. As Sourav had once said while carefully putting a bunch of freshly harvested roses from his research field in a bucket of the pulsing solution after skilfully putting a sharp slant cut at the stalk ends, “Plant care is more of Art and less of Science. You need to be gentle and creative.”  He truly has approached Horticulture as if it were his muse and has painted across it, a multitude of colours, with oodles of love and care.

Now, on an ending note, this story is not essentially about Sourav, but again, it is about Sourav, about a young guy with limited means who dares to dream, about a guy from a tiny village who dreams to make it big, and about a guy who works day and night on fulfilling his dreams. He still hasn’t achieved one-tenth of what he aspires for, but he most certainly has achieved what many of us don’t even try dreaming of or acting upon. Sourav has proven that practicing Horticulture doesn’t narrow one’s career options. Rather one’s eyes and ears and mind should be kept open and welcoming to newer ideas and fresher concepts. After spending over five years in Horticultural research, I can safely conclude that we, the rest, studied Horticulture, but Sourav in actuality embraced, practiced and added to it.