Mumtaz Alam | Inclusive India
New Delhi/ Muzaffarpur, October 27— It was a small awkward situation for him in the local vegetable market in the city of Muzaffarpur some years ago that forced this Jamia Millia alumnus to sit cross-fingered for a while at home and get up with an idea to not face the same situation again.
“I had gone to buy vegetables in the market but could not buy much as it was much costly and my pocket had turned empty soon,” says Hasnain Arij recalling the incident that took place four years ago. He returned home.
Armed with graduation degree and a certificate course in commercial arts from Jamia, Arij began looking for the way-out.
“I searched on YouTube and websites to know if I can grow vegetables on my roof. And I found people are doing roof-top gardening. I contacted a company which was doing this business. They demanded Rs 50,000 from me and offered 50% subsidy to install roof-top gardening system. It was too much for me. So, I searched about their techniques and found it and then I started doing it myself for my family. I prepared a small model on my roof and it became successful,” says Arij who later turned this personal success into a business and has since been growing.
Three years ago, he launched a firm and started doing business in roof-top gardening, solar system and water treatment and harvesting.
“I launched my company ‘Energy Plan’ three years ago. I had done graduation and a certificate course in commercial arts from Jamia Millia Islamia, so I wanted to do something new in this field of energy. After launching the company, I started working on three trades – organic food, solar energy and water treatment,” he says.
He explains about roof-top gardening.
“We prepare soil in thermocol bucket on the roof. Soil is natural as it is prepared with kitchen waste. We grow vegetables and fruits on roof top. We prepare compost with kitchen waste. We can grow all types of vegetables, including bone side plants like papaya tree,” said Arij
“Health-wise, vegetables grown through this process on roof is far better than what we buy from market. They taste better. So much so that you can eat one cooked vegetable three-four times and it will not lose taste. No chemicals are used here. Moreover, sometimes due to rain or for some other reason, vegetables are not available in the market, then you are not on the losing side,” he said.
Moreover, he claims that roof-top gardening costs less.
“If you buy vegetables for one week, it costs you Rs 500-600. While one bucket of soil with plants costs Rs 300-400. If you grow, suppose, pumpkin in one bucket, you can get so many pumpkins from one bucket that you not only use in your home but can also give surplus to others,” said Arij.
“In Rs 3000-4000, we provide 10 buckets with soil and grown plants. It is enough for one home and they can get vegetables everyday. We provide three types of plants – vegetables, medicinal plants and spices,” he said. He has 40-45 clients.
Roof-top gardening is popular in mountainous areas like in Siliguri, Assam and Mizoram. But if it is practiced in plain cities and towns, it will improve the environment.
“We have created a new thing. I think in this time of inflation, you get fresh vegetables and fresh fruits on your roof top at low cost. You get a set-up in just Rs 4000-5000 in 300 square feet. People are appreciating our work and joining us.”
Besides roof-top gardening, Arij is also doing business in solar system.
“Mine is a research-based company which provides solar system on low cost in villages. In solar energy, our starting point is Rs 5,000 – this includes a fan, a bulb, solar plates and battery,” said Arij. “I opened the company to explore how we can convert natural energy into our consumer life.”
“We have installed roof-top solar plants and roof-top gardening system at many places in Siwan, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Samastipur and Patna.”
He is also doing some charity time to time.
Arij said: “I have donated small solar plants at some mosques and also to some poor individuals, and organic food system to some madrasas that have space.”