Kerala: Desi farm business gets UK ticket

Kochi-based agri-tech company started by four young engineers earns the coveted UK Startup Visa
Prince John Joseph, Ebin Elias and Richard Joy
Prince John Joseph, Ebin Elias and Richard Joy

KOCHI: Food security has been a hot topic of discussion for a while now,  and people are trying to find out means to increase the output of the farms. Realising the importance of assimilating technology with traditional methods of farming, a group of young engineers came together to set up a startup called The firm creates a more sustainable future by helping farmers optimise yield and reduce the cost.

Now the startup, an offshoot of the parent firm Teqard Labs, founded by Richard Joy, Ebin Elias, Prince John Joseph and Jo Paul John, has secured the coveted UK Startup Visa.“This step marks a significant milestone in our agri-tech firm’s journey towards redefining farming through practices driven by innovation,” says Richard, who graduated along with the other co-founders from Adi Shankara Institute of Engineering and Technology at Kalady.

Explaining about UK Startup Visa, Richard says, they came to know about it from a friend who is studying in Scotland. “We were told that the universities in the UK are looking for startups to enhance agri-tech in the country. So we presented our business model and after multiple discussions, we bagged the deal.”

The UK Startup Visa is a prestigious recognition granted to innovative startups with the potential to contribute significantly to the UK economy and technology landscape. This visa enables startups to establish their presence and grow their operations in the United Kingdom.

The team is equipped with people who have knowledge about different streams of engineering and this is what makes the team special. Richard and Abin are both computer engineers, whereas Prince is a mechanical engineer and Jo graduated as an electrical engineer.

The idea of the startup ufarms stemmed while they were addressing a client’s need at Teqard. “Teqard focuses on research and development works. Through a client we got the idea of utilising technology in making farming more precise and profitable. This was the beginning of ufarms, an agricultural company that aims to transform the food supply chain through innovative technologies and sustainable practices,” says Richard.

Ufarms was registered as a startup five months ago and was funded via bootstrapping. They got endowments including the Nidhi Prayas Grant, NIDHI EIR Fellowship and the EY Climathon Runner-up award besides funding from KSUM.and Teqard Labs.

The UK Startup Visa comes to seven months after the company’s partnership with Uptown Urban Farms in Kerala, resulting in the establishment of the state’s largest (16,000 sq. ft) fully-automated hydroponic farm. According to the founders, hydroponic is a way to skip soil and grow crops in different materials that enriches the roots of the plant.

“Our product includes an autodosing system that meets all the fertilisation requirement of your plants. Our grow kit includes a grow tent, LED grow light and grow bags. Finally, our grow app is an interactive tool that helps you track the progress of your plants and provides insights on how to optimise the growing environment,” says the young engineer.

The startup as of now has not fully introduced its products in the market. In six months they plan to bring automation of the hydroponic, drip irrigation systems, and automation of mushroom controllers to India as well as the UK market. 

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The New Indian Express