By: Ravinder Vasudeva
Shimla: A certain brain drain has been happening in Himachal for years with the youth generally feeling that there are not many opportunities to pursue a career here, but there are people like Vinod Soni who, from time to time, have set examples defying this defeatist attitude. A normal post-graduate from Ghumarwi tehsil in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh, Soni has proved how a person’s approach can make difference.
Soni, who hails from the Padyalag village of Bilaspur district, is the only entrepreneur from Himachal Pradesh dealing in production of apple and kiwi root stock through ‘tissue culture’. He established his biotech production lab, named ‘Rajat Biotech Farm’ in Dadhol village near Ghumarwi, just three years back in 2006 and, in this very short period has emerged as the leading supplier of apple and kiwi root stock in the northern India.
“My family is into jewellery business, but I never wanted to follow the same path. After completing my studies, I read about the scope in farming sector and after consulting specialist from Palampur Agriculture University and Horticulture University in Nauni, I started this new kind of business in the state,” says Vinod Soni, who is a simply MA,
B.Ed. from Himachal Pradesh University. He wonders why youth in Himachal is running after government jobs when there is enormous scope of growth in farming sector within the state.Soni invested Rs 22 lakh as initial investment to the business under the Horticulture Technical Mission, for which the Horticulture Department of the Himachal Pradesh Government provided him a subsidy of Rs 10 lakh. “The rest of the money I managed by loans from various banks,” Soni discloses. According to Soni, he started the plant with an initial production capacity of 25,000 root stocks of American MM series of apple per year but with his knowledge, hard work and dedication, he managed to increase the capacity to one lakh root stocks of apple per year. Keeping in mind the rising demand for this “virus-free” root stocks in Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand, Soni now targets to produce three lakh of root stocks till the end of 2010.
Presently, this biotech plant is spread in over 5 acre of land and is having about 30 workers.“With changing course of time, apple-growing community now prefers these root stocks over the normal ones as they are much resistible to various kinds of diseases. So I feel there is still great scope for more such enterprises,” feels Vinod Soni.