This is regarding the Hydroponic training program from Petbharo Project I attended during the month of May 2009. I had kept this aside for a long time. Since I am getting many queries regarding the training I thought I will speak up. Here goes…
As I was very interested in Hydroponics I did a lot of homework and learnt a lot from the web. But to get a hands on and a complete understanding I decided to attend this training albeit its high training fee. I have been wanting to write a review about it and looks like the time has come now.
Details of the training.
Duration of the training: 3 days
Training Fee : INR 10,000/-
Venue : Lalbagh.
The whole training is split into 3 sessions each spanning a day. The core of the training program is a DVD ( Hard to believe! but its true).
Long story short, the course turned out to be flop. Few reasons why it isn’t worth it is:
- In the name of “Simplified hydroponics” they have simplified most of the training that the price paid 10K is simply not worth it. Many hydroponic systems were not discussed. Not even a working model. All they have is photographs and videos of some commercial hydroponic farm.
- Training doesn’t focus on nutrient formula and making our own nutrients.
- No Receipts/Invoices for any payment you make.
WARNING: This is a lengthy post and proceed if you have time .
It all started when I gave a call to Petbharo to see if I can attend their training. As programmed, the receptionist or whoever comes up with the trick and says “Oh all the slots are full, gimme a call tomorrow, I will see if I can put you into some cancelled slot”. Surprisingly some one cancels and I get alloted on the first batch. After I joined I came to know that the first batch was not even full. How is that? Proceed there is more interesting stuff comin’ along.
Like other participants, I showed up a little early for the training program. There were few guys from other states as well. The training crew shows up late. And we all gather around asking for the agenda. We were not told about the agenda for a while. Then we all wait for the inaugural function by Lalbagh’s higher officials. It was already around 11 by then. Then comes Lalbagh official who had given permission to Petbharo to conduct their training in Lalbagh. After a short speech we resume the class. We were served Tea in cups which would qualify for the size “by 2” (Folks in India need no explanation of what “by2” is). There were some issues with setting up the microphone etc.Next we go to practical which was nothing but a detailed hands on session on how to make drill holes in Trays and Plastic buckets. We waste a good 2 hours there and the next 1 hour in filling it with CocoPeat. By now, few of us are already started to realize our valuable time getting wasted.( The training is on 3 working days!)
By noon, we were done with the drilling and all and were getting ready for lunch time. Did I tell you that they don’t provide lunch? Yeah thats true. No lunch. We had to go to some hotel outside lalbagh and every one took time to return and obviously at the expense of the later session. Being the month of May, sun was at its best and all of us were busy quenching our thirsts. And here comes the next surprise, they don’t provide water as well. This annoyed several of us. We pay 10,000 and you are not provided with water? Helloooo?
All through the training program so far, few of us were asking about the Nutrients formula and composition etc. Somehow this information was kept a secret from us and infact the whole reason why I went for the training is to know this.
So far we had finished 1st day of 3 day program and trust me we hadn’t seen a single plant growing/yielding in hydroponics. The seedlings we were shown were grown in soil and plucked carelessly that most of them didn’t have roots.
Day 1, we finished 3 modules in DVD and a question answer session with the Professor.The professor answered our questions well. But overall I was disappointed and so were the other attendees. We left home hoping that 2nd and 3rd day will be fruitful.
Day 2 starts with DVD again and at this point, we were really bored with the DVD. We were then taken out for a practical session “Mixing the nutrients” what should have been “Preparing the nutrients” since the formula is a Top secret and cannot be told to anyone unless they are ready to talk business.
We are shown different kinds of hydroponic medium and we all are asked to sow Lettuce, Marigold and seeds like that. This took another good 2 hours followed by a demonstration of how to mix the nutrients.
Coming to the nutrients ( will be called nutes from now), if you want it, you have to purchase it from Petbharo. And the worst part is, they dont sell them by weight. The quantity they sell is “the amount of nutes needed for a 20 sqmetre garden for an year” it amounts to Rs 8000 approx. This 8000 is apart from the Training fee( Incase you thought otherwise).
After taking the time to mix 3 drums of nutrients it was time for lunch. Once we came back from lunch we were shown the videos on how to make a raised bed for hydroponics. Few of us really got annoyed and the video got fast forwarded.
After the noon tea break on day 2, we pretty much didn’t have anything to do practical and were just wandering around lalbagh gardens near the training hall.
By now, I was convinced that my 10K was not justified.
Having lost all the hope, we assembled on time for day 3. We watched the last 3 modules of DVD and other than that most of the day 3 was for advertisements for the people who sponsored. KELTech came and gave a talk for 45 mins. Another company that sells EC/pH meters took another hour. Then came a chemist who explained about water purification and took another hour. you do the math. At the end of the day, we had our certificates being handed over to all the individuals.
Few of us were interested in the nutes that they are making. I didn’t want an years supply for Rs 8000 hence I asked for 3 months supply.There was initial hesitation but a ‘yes’ came few minutes later. The next monday we all pay up Rs 2000 for the nutes. After nearly a month’s delay the nutes finally arrive. We were asked to come and collect it ourselves.
Myself and another friend of mine go to collect without knowing about that surprise that awaits us. Each of us are supposed to get 3 bags A, B and C. My supply didnt have B and C and my friends didnt have B. ‘A’ that was present in both of our supply was very less in quantity than what they had advertised.
All these chemicals were given in the cheapest polythene bag you can possibly imagine. When we were carrying it back from Lalbagh office to the parking lot the obvious thing happened. My friends bag broke and he was already drawing rangoli on the road without his knowledge.
We call the person and complain about this. We were told that they will provide the missing nutes and in a better bags. We again make a visit got the new bags that are supposed to have the right weights and this time I weighed the weight was still less than what they claimed. But I lost it. I didn’t go back.
All the while I didn’t mention about one thing, the Receipt. Yes, They didn’t give us the receipt for any of the payment we made. Not for the 10,000 and not for the 2000 either. Is it because anything goes in India and people wont bother about the bill?.
Few of the trainees had knowledge on gardening and some were newbies. The newbies got to know how to sow seeds and all that. But the
whole idea of Hydroponics was not inculcated. The training priced at 10K and their mission statement to solve the hunger problem don’t go well together.
No doubt, they covered the basics of hydroponic concepts and the professor who gave the talk was a knowledgeable person. I am not denying that. But the expectations were not met.
In my humble opinion, I feel the training was not worth Rs 10,000 at all( may be 1/10th of it). There are many ways of learning hydroponics. Internet has exhaustive list of videos to help us learn and if you still want a training, you can buy the same DVD use for training at www.carbon.org for a lesser price.
What I mentioned here is my opinion of the training, although many who attended the course along with me couldn’t agree more with me.