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‘SIMPLIFIED’ HYDROPONICS IS NOT VIABLE

(Written in Public Interest by V.Shanker)

I attended a Simplified Hydroponics Training Course in Bangalore on May 7th 2009


conducted by C V Prakash who runs an organization called “Institute of Simplified
Hydroponics”

The Course was advertised and 'promoted' as a solution to grow food for the poor masses
in India using HYDROPONIC techniques. This 'social cause' was implied in the name
"PET BHARO (Hindi word translated to mean "FILL YOUR STOMACH"). We
were also given to understand that "HYDROPONICS is a COST EFFECTIVE method to
grow food using minimum water and land resources". This was meant to HELP the
hungry millions in India to escape poverty and malnutrition. Clearly all this was a sales
gimmick to exploit India's Poverty and derive support and sympathy from the public for
an undeserving, dubious cause and perhaps to find a few gullible individuals to part with
a substantial sum of money.

The duration of course was 3 days and the fee charged was RS 10,000/-. All the hype and
subtle salesmanship made it appear that the course was 'real value for money'. A few
names of foreigners were dropped into the kettle to give it a flavor of scientific research
and United Nations backing.

The course had nothing much to offer other than information commonly available on the
Internet. We were shown a few video clips of some plants grown hydroponically in
Mexico/Cuba. WE WERE NOT SHOWN A SINGLE PLANT THAT WAS GROWN
BY Mr. C.V. Prakash and his team from ISH (Institute of Simplified Hydroponics).
We had to simply go by his word that he had a great deal of experience and knowledge.

The BIGGEST DISSAPOINTMENT and RUDE SHOCK to the students who paid RS 10
K was that at the end of 3 days of an utterly boring and plagiarized training programme
we were told that the FORMULA for NUTRIENT was a "TRADE SECRET" only
known to Mr. C.V. Prakash and that we would have to order the NUTRIENT MIX
(Fertilzer salts mixed in specific quantities) only from Prakash. (Despite the fact that he
has NO TRADING LICENSE for handling these very dangerous chemical substances!)

We were further required to PAY a sum of Rs 7250/- for 1 year’s supply of Nutrient Mix.
This was VAGUELY described as the quantity required for 200 Sq Mt of garden for 1
year. There was NO WEIGHT mentioned on the packing. When I called to find out the
weight I was informed by a staff member that the weight was no known as I had not
ordered by weight! (I had supposedly ordered a ‘year’s supply’)

Now we were in a BLACKMAIL situation where we had already spent more than 3 Days
in Bangalore (most of us were from other cities), given a fee of 10K, spent about another
10K in traveling and hotel expenses. We (some of us in the class) requested Mr. C.V.
Prakash to give us the NUTRIENT FORMULA to enable us to buy the ingredients in the
open market but he refused, saying that it was his TRADE SECRET!

All along C.V. Prakash was posturing as a "SAVIOUR" of the poor, hungry masses of
India - and ...WHAM! Now he has mutated into this shrewd businessman. (Of course
there is nothing wrong in wanting to make a little money or a lot of money either- but this
had a VERY BAD SMELL to it ... it was a SCAM!. The whole idea of "PET BHARO"
suddenly became a "POCKET BHARO" project!!!

Anyway, I paid up the 7250/- and he shipped the Nutrients to me after nearly a month or
so. It was further shocking when I saw the condition of the PACKING - absolutely
shoddy. Just a few HDPE sacks loosely packed and tied with a rope. There was NO
INVOICE! Imagine shipping FERTILIZERS across India without a LICENSE!

I reconciled myself to the reality of the scam and decided to go ahead and give our friend
CV Prakash the benefit of the doubt. I set up a 200 SQ MT garden using coco peat as the
substrate. I invested in several thermocole tubs, racks, etc. I did a lot of hard work. I spent
a lot of time trying to make the best of a bad situation. For 5 months till date I have been
working on the project - with extremely disappointing yields and mediocre results.

To make matters even more FRUSTRATING, I realized that the NUTRIENT


FORMULA strength was inadequate. I used it for my garden for 3 months and so did
some of my enthusiastic friends who were victims of this Pet Bharo joke. The growth of
the plants was very poor. I subsequently tested the NUTRIENT FORMULA in the
prescribed quantity of water that I was advised to use and came to the conclusion that
unless the QUANTITY OF NUTRIENT SALTS was doubled it was unlikely to give a
suitable PPM reading (1500 to 2000 PPM is required according to other expert sources,
whereas the PET BHARO MIX was only providing a PPM count of around 700 as per
ratio of Nutrient-Water advised by ISH).

The YIELD of the various vegetables was found to be very low. Nothing extraordinary!
The pests had to be kept out using a variety of bio pesticides. In fact this WHOLE
FUTILE EXERCISE has proved to be VERY COSTLY in terms of TIME and MONEY.
In fact, in my opinion the COST OF VEGETABLES using this method of
HYDROPONICS will exceed the MARKET PRICE of vegetables by at least 200% …...
imagine solving poverty in India!

My conclusion:

1. The Simplified Hydroponics Training Course conducted by C.V. Prakash is NOT


WORTH THE 10K as it lacks any structure or valuable knowledge. It also does not
offer any kind of technical support for people who have completed the course.

2. The Training Course should obviously provide a DETAILED NUTRIENT


FORMULA to all, to enable them to produce the mix as per their specific
requirements.
3. The ISH should MANUFACTURE and MARKET the NUTRIENT FORMULA
with a proper Registration and License and it should be delivered with PROPER
PACKING.

4. The name PET BHARO along with all its connotations of ALTRUISM should be
discarded and Mr. C.V. Prakash should SELL HIS COURSE as a “HOBBY for the
ELITE” not as a SOLUTION for the POOR.

5. ENVIRONMENTAL damage is likely when you discard the excess nutrient


water. This is a very dangerous situation. Hence this type of UNREGULATED
HYDROPONICS is banned in developed countries such as USA, UK, Australia,
Europe, etc. We should NOT mess with Hydroponics WITHOUT proper knowledge
or with pseudo knowledge imparted by ignorant people with personal interests.