Employing hydroponics, where plants are grown in mineral nutrient solutions in water instead of soil, you can grow your vegetables and herbs organically at your own home. And what’s more this farming technique uses up to 90 per cent less water than conventional soil-based farming. Macro and micronutrients in the water are directly fed to the plant, helping it to grow faster, and garnering a better yield.
Want to try this in your own home? Here are eight startups from around the country that are leading the way and can help you set up your own hydroponic garden.
Check out this workshop by Mr Guruprasad Kurtkoti, a passionate farmer, coach and a writer, who educates people on scientific farming techniques such as hydroponics
1. Acqua Farms, Chennai
Rahul Dhoka, the founder of Green Rush Organics and hydroponics farming consultancy Acqua Farms, grows over 6,000 plants in just 80 sq ft of space. He grows everything from Italian basil to carom (ajwain), mint, spinach, lettuce and a host of leafy greens and herbs. Moreover, he grows these vegetables using planters made of PVC pipes.
“Besides a starter kit, Acqua Farms also provides setups for larger planter systems with 24, 48, 72, 96 and going up to 1,000, depending on what the user needs. They also have a subscription-based service to those who have no knowledge of hydroponics, where, against a monthly amount, they assign the user an agronomist who takes care of their plants and monitors it once a week,” reports The Better India.
2. Letcetra Agritech, Goa
Founded by software engineer-turned-hydroponics farmer Ajay Naik, Letcetra Agritech in the Mapusa area of Goa is the first such indoor hydroponics farm, which grows good quality, pesticide-free vegetables. Their farm, measuring 150 sq metres, produces tons of leafy vegetables like lettuce and salad greens, besides cherry tomatoes, bell peppers and basil.
“Letcetra has expanded to include two more farms with an overall area of 2,300 square metres. The combined fresh produce from all three farms put together is about 6-8 tonnes of different varieties of lettuce and other leafy greens, per month,” reports Deccan Herald.
“To those who have land and want it to put the same to productive use, while at the same time, solve the pressing need to produce food for the country’s bursting population, we offer comprehensive commercial hydroponic system design, operations and maintenance solutions,” says the company website.
3. BitMantis Innovations, Bengaluru
Based out of Bengaluru, this IoT and data analytics start-up has developed its IoT solution GreenSAGE, which allows individuals and commercial growers to grow fresh herbs throughout the year with the minimum of fuss.
Under GreenSage, you have the Micro Edition and Greens Edition kits that uses hydroponics methods for efficient use of water and nutrients.
“TheGreenSAGE Micro Edition is equipped with two trays to grow microgreens at one’s own convenience. TheGreenSAGE Greens Edition is equipped with replaceable trays to either use for growing culinary herbs, salad greens or micro-greens,” claims the company website.
4. UrbanKissan, Hyderabad
Vihari Kanukollu, Dr Sairam and Srinivas Chaganti came together to establish UrbanKissan, a company aiming to integrate the concept of ‘In My Backyard’ in sustainable farming. With help and guidance from the UrbanKissan, you can now grow fresh produce including lettuce, herbs, greens and exotic vegetables round the year.
You can grow them anywhere – from rooftops to balconies.
“The company offers a range of options, from a model kit of 18 to 36 plants. The kit consists of seeds, coconut waste and a mix of nutrients. Once you place an order according to your preference, the company will assist you in choosing the site and delivering logistics. The staff will come to your house and help you set up the farm,” reports TBI.
Once you’ve set up your farm, all you need to do is spend just a few minutes every day to water the crops.
5. Future Farms, Chennai
Based out of Chennai, this startup founded by Sriram Gopal, who earlier ran an IT firm, develops accessible and effective farming kits to facilitate hydroponics farming. “Future Farms now grows 16 crop varieties, classified under English Exotic, Asian Exotic and Indian Exotic, across 15 acres of land spread over 10 states. It recorded a $1 million turnover last year,” according to YourStory. Their primary focus is on leafy vegetables with farms spread across the country from Delhi to Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
6. Ela Sustainable Solutions, Cochin
Cochin-based teacher-student duo, Shijin VS and Amal Mathew, established Ela Sustainable Solutions to assist urban farmers in setting up hydroponics farming systems and mini-polyhouses in small spaces upto 100 sq ft. “From tomato, cabbage, capsicum, cucumber, beans, tapioca, cauliflower, carrots, radish, brinjal, ladies finger to leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, and coriander, you can grow all your veggies using these technologies. Apart from setting up your own hydroponics farms and polyhouses, you can also gift entire smart garden kits to your loved ones,” reports TBI.
7. Junga FreshnGreen, Himachal Pradesh
Partnering up with InfraCo Asia Development Pvt. Ltd. (IAD), Himachal Pradesh-based Junga FreshnGreen runs a 9.3-hectare hydroponics-based agricultural facility at Junga in Shimla district. “Our goal is to create a model of farming. . . . under the ‘Hydroponics’ model, cultivating farm fresh vegetables that have a predictable yield, having little or no pesticides and unaffected by the weather or soil conditions being grown in a protected greenhouse environment,” they claim.
They welcome enquiries from those owning land who would like them to recreate this model for them backed by predictable returns.
8. Pindfresh, Chandigarh
“We develop hydroponics do-it-yourself (DIY) kits in varying sizes that are supplemented with replacement nutrients, organic seeds and inert mediums—precisely everything that you need to start growing your own food produce,” says Somveer Anand, who is the chief fabricator of Pindfresh, in a conversation with TBI.
With packages that help you set up minute indoor kitchen gardens requiring only diffused sunlight, Pindfresh also offers installations for inside the house. In the absence or lack of direct sunlight, they offer customised lighting solutions as well.
(You can click here to read more TBI stories on hydroponics.)
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)