Do you ever dream of having a garden where you could grow veggies, but are unable to do so because you are stuck in an urban space with no backyard?
Well, here is a solution!
U-farm technologies is a start-up that will utilise your walls and vertical spaces to grow hydroponic gardens. A hydroponic garden is a technique to grow plants without the use of soil. Since plants require water, sunlight and the nutrients of a soil, the latter is replaced with a mineral-rich water solution.
The start-up was created by a group of three graduates of BITS (Birla Institute of Technology and Science) Pilani and a horticulturist. The innovation is a farming appliance which can be used to farm in supermarkets, restaurants, individual apartment complexes, hospitals etc.
The automated device will be powered by IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (Artificial Intelligence).
Utsav Gudakha, one of the founders, spoke to New Indian Express about the inspiration behind this farming appliance. “While there are large-scale hydroponic farms in places like Hyderabad and Pune located 100 km away from the cities, the nutrition value comes down by half by the time it reaches the customer, and there are complaints of wilting. To overcome this problem, we came up with this idea.”
Although there is a wide scope of growing plants in this manner, the firm has hand-picked a few vegetables that will thrive in these conditions while also not being too bulky or large for the project. The idea is to have a set-up of a hydroponic garden and caretakers from the same firm who will look after the plants.
Talking about the uniqueness of the project, Utsav said, “There are a few players, but the difference is they give the set-up, and you have to manage, which is found to be difficult in most cases. Here, we will set up the farm, and our professional growers will come every day doing the routine, and the only thing that is required is [to] subscribe to our produce.
Our business model will work in an apartment complex having a minimum of 40 families. We are still working on [a] revenue sharing formula with supermarkets.”
The project had initially received an annual grant of Rs 3.67 lakh by IIT-Bombay and was supported by its Department of Science and Technology. At present, the team has received Rs 5 lakh to develop a prototype by the Carbon Zero Challenge 2018.