If you rue the fact that you are unable to grow your own vegetables due to lack of space or time, there is a way out now. The best part is that you do not even have to cultivate them yourself. UrbanKisaan, a vertical farming start-up, now offers an indoor farm where buyers can harvest the vegetables they want to buy, right from the source! You can either walk in and buy your chosen veggies, or you can order online and get them delivered at your doorstep.
At this indoor farm located in Manikonda, which is said to be the first-of-its-kind in India, the vegetables are grown organically using less than five per cent of land and water compared to an outdoor farm.
Vihari Kanukollu, CEO and co-founder of the startup, says: “We are creating a model through which consumers can directly get their vegetables from the farm. Most fruits and vegetables in India travel an average of six days and more than 2,000 miles to reach store shelves, only to arrive laced with pesticides with compromised nutritional value. Tonnes of pesticides are used annually. These pesticides run off into the water supply and adversely affect the environment.
Up to 45 per cent of the nutritional value of produce erodes between being picked and landing on a grocery store shelf. Keeping these facts in mind, we are trying to give our consumers food that does not harm the environment or health.”
“One of the benefits of this model is that there is no wastage. Even if something is not picked today, then it still stays in the farm and keeps growing. In supermarkets, vegetables get dumped regularly due to uncertain demand. All the natural resources and energy that have been put in to grow that gets wasted. Since we are using hydroponics, there is no soil involved, and we use 95 per cent less water. Since we are growing the produce vertically, we are optimising space.
At this indoor farm of 2,000 square feet, we are growing vegetables that is grown in 1.75 acres of land, using 200 litres of water daily,” says Vihari. “Since we have zero wastage, zero transportation costs and no storage costs, we are able to sell our organically grown vegetables at market prices,” he adds. The firm makes its own nutrients, which is administered to the plants in liquid form. UrbanKisaan has a rooftop farm too in Jubilee Hills. The startup, which has recently received funding from Y Combinator, a global seed accelerator, also organises workshops on hydroponics. Dr Sairam Palicherla, a plant scientist, is the chief scientific officer and co-founder of the firm. They are planning to set up four more neighbourhood farms in the next three months.