Knock out win
Ramston Rodrigues does pack a punch, and it got him the second win for Team India at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) World Championship 2021. Ramston had a formidable opponent in Lukas Piffko of the Czech Republic in the middleweight category, but he skilfully worked his way to quick knockout victory in the first round itself. Ramston got greater prominence and attention, as former UFC Champion Conor McGregor gave him a shoutout in praise of his talent.
Ramston’s Instagram handle has expressions of pride and gratitude:
“Had the honor to represent my country at the IMMAF world championships this year. Lots of mixed emotions. Something I will remember for a lifetime.
I would like to thank everyone who made this happen. My wife @rachel_monica, my coaches @lrj_oneill and @moefakhreddine and my training partners for all the work. We walk inside the cage alone but without a solid team we don’t get anywhere. To my family, friends and everyone that prayed and wished for my success and also those you wished otherwise. All prayers were answered. Also I thank @sharifbapuselfdefence President of India MMA and the entire MMA India federation for believing in me and giving me the opportunity. Thank you all. On to the next one!”
Mind, set and game
A mind set on winning, and a practice in agility. It probably describes what won Olga D’Costa the game at the World Badminton Championship at Spain, where she represented India in the 75+ category. In a remarkable display of grit and talent, she went on to win a bronze medal.
At 79, Olga demonstrated that age cannot diminish the power of an agile mind, and its potential to reach great heights. Her single-minded focus to take on the challenge, helped her brave all odds posed in the COVID-struck world. Travelling to Spain, she made diligent preparations to compete with participants from across the world. Olga’s dedication and enthusiasm made her a strong contender at the event.
The passion for sport grew in Jabalpur, MP, where as a young girl Olga swam, played hockey, badminton, and table tennis. Badminton became her passion. She represented Jabalpur University and the state of Madhya Pradesh at the National level. After moving to Bangalore she won two golds in the 35+ category in the year 1984 at the Chandrapur Nationals. She then stopped competitive badminton and pursued another passion – teaching. She was a professor at a Bangalore college for 15 years. After retirement it was back to badminton. She won two prestigious gold medals in a National Badminton tournament. One in singles 75+ category and another in women’s doubles 70 + category, at the “All India Masters Ranking Badminton Tournament 2021”.
It’s a matter of great pride that Olga D’Costa was selected to represent India three times consecutively: In 2017 International tournament in Kochi; In 2019 in Poland; and in 2021 in Spain. This event is held every two years.
Olga’s youthful spirit, and remarkable win has made her popular across digital media, with several WhatsApp exchanges, and other social media handles sharing her story. Winning waves!
A Farmstead and Daily Staples
When Jason Fernandes tabled the farm conversation, and hydroponics at that, he didn’t realize that it would lead him to an unfolding dream – a farmstead that offers high quality produce at scale. He shares his entrepreneurial milestones, and the vision for green integration into business.
What inspired you to start a project using the hydroponics idea?
It all started a few years ago when I started working with my dad. That’s when I discovered I had an affinity towards landscaping and horticulture. The first few projects I took the lead on directly interacting with our landscaping architects. It came to a point where I started learning the botanical names of all the plants in depth and giving design inputs myself.
Gradually, there came a time when we completely stopped working with landscape architects, and I have designed every project we have done since. My two latest projects being – our resort Rosetta, Sakleshpur and our latest 53-acre residential development, Ferns Forest View in Bengaluru.
From there it didn’t take me very long to pivot into agriculture. I started taking over our coffee plantations, and spent a lot of time researching various farming practices in my free time. That’s when I came across hydroponics. It piqued my interest instantly and when my research into hydroponics broadened, that’s when I knew I absolutely had to do something in this space someday.
How does it work?
Hydroponics is a method of cultivating very high quality produce within or outside of a polyhouse or greenhouse. This is a method of farming which doesn’t use soil and has the roots of the plant completely submerged in a nutrient solution from where the plant gets its nourishment. This ensures the plant literally has a 24/7 access to very high quality nutrients in a protected space which enables it to yield very high quality produce, and larger more aesthetically pleasing fruit with higher levels of nutrition as compared to plants grown in soil.
One of the other major benefit is that a farm can be set up almost anywhere like rooftops, degraded farm lands, etc which can enable us to set up farms closer to cities. This means produce can reach the end-consumer faster, fresher, with lower transport wastages and nutrient loss. Not to mention it only uses 5% of the water that traditional farming uses to grow the same amount of produce.
And since most hydroponic produce is grown in protected polyhouses, farmers can eliminate the use of pesticides and fungicides and other harmful chemicals.
At Rosetta we have built a half acre farm using a deep water-culture system and Dutch-bucket system which has allowed us to grow a huge variety of produce such as tomatoes, cucumbers, brinjals, capsicums, chillies, melons, pumpkins, broccoli, spinach, various lettuces, various herbs and more.
In general most of our food travels a minimum average of over 200 miles in the course of over 48 hours after harvest, and before it reaches our plate with at least 10 – 15% wastages during transportation. At Rosetta, our hydroponic produce has carbon miles of just 0.5 km. We are able to support four of our restaurants and banqueting requirements in a set-up of just 20,000 sq.ft with produce that is harvested at 7 am and consumed within 12 hours of harvest.
What was the experience like when you began to explore the execution of your interests?
When I approached my dad with the idea, concept and investment needed for a hydroponic farm he looked at me the way the Romans looked at Galileo when he discovered the earth revolved around the sun! He was of the opinion that I had lost my marbles and that the concept of cultivating without soil was something out of a science fiction film. He strongly suggested I had enough on my plate to focus at work and this was a complete waste of my time and money!
Being the rebel I am, I didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and desperately wanted to prove him wrong. So I obnoxiously decided that if I can’t get the support I need from him I will get it from someone else. Long story short, I continued my research, raised 1.3 Cr of investment behind his back and secretly tried to build my first ½ acre farm in Sarjapur. It didn’t remain a secret for long as the 6am trips to Sarjapur every day before work became very obvious.
Tell us about the challenges
The first farm came out beautifully. Looked like a spaceship out of Star Trek! However it was a typical example of operation successful, patient dead. With all the R&D, trial and error and the mistakes I made in learning to build and operate my first hydroponic farm, it turned out, commercially, as an absolute failure in terms of ROI for any investor. I myself lost a lot of money as I had a 30% stake in the venture. That’s when I thought maybe my dad was right, maybe I should have listened to him.
To my surprise he was so impressed with my perseverance and what I was able to put up on my own he decided to support me this time and encouraged me take another crack at it and put up a second farm at our Resort, Rosetta by Ferns, Sakleshpur.
At the risk of sounding boastful, that’s what I did and it could not have come out any better. With the experience and learning from mistakes from my first farm, the second farm, in my personal opinion, has been a runaway success.
From 1.3 Cr for a ½ acre farm in Sarjapur I built another ½ acre farm in Rosetta for just 30 lacs. In Hindsight I would not have been able to value engineer my second farm at 1/4th the cost of my first farm without burning my hands first.
How have you been able to integrate this into your core business?
As far as the resort goes we are able to control our quality and source of produce. Especially for exotic produce which is a nightmare to source all the way out in Sakleshpur.
We plan grow and only harvest what we need for the day. This enables us to consume food at its freshest. Farm-to-table in every sense. A luxury very few get to experience in today’s world.
What are your plans for sustainability?
I haven’t shared this with anyone but my dream is to someday build a massive farmstead over 50 + acres. A farm tech park of sorts.
In my short time as a farmer I have grown to greatly respect and appreciate the amount of hard sweat and toil that goes into growing the food on our plates that we so ignorantly take for granted. And after all of that hard work they still get next to nothing for the fruits of their labour. And that’s primarily because of middlemen.
That’s why I want to build my own distribution if I ever do something substantial in this space. That’s where the money and the margins are.
I want to grow fantastic high quality produce at scale and be my own middle man. That’s my vision. And I want to do it by not just growing fancy lettuces and herbs which is what every hydroponic farmer does today in small farms which can’t be scaled. I want to grow the 14-15 daily staples that the average Indian household consumes. That’s where the volumes are and that’s where I can do something meaningful at scale.
Get in touch!
Kanara Catholic Association
KCA is a non-profit organisation set up to promote educational, spiritual and cultural activities for the Mangalorean community.
#90 Konkan Samudhai Bhavan, 7th Main, Chelekere, Kalyan Nagar, Bangalore - 560043