In 2018, Keya Salot transitioned from a successful career in law to farming with an aim to reduce India’s dependency on imported exotic fruits.

“In 2021-22, India was importing $2.2 billion of exotic fruits and vegetables. That’s not really a good number,” she says.

In 2021, Keya started Farm2Fam to develop cultivation of exotic fruits locally; aiming specifically at blueberries and raspberries, which are generally imported and expensive.

She effectively utilised a 20-acre plot of land to produce at least 135 tonnes of berries annually.

Understanding the climatic challenge in India for these fruits, Keya implemented innovative farming techniques such as the low-cost tunnel method.

“We are required to protect temperate crops like raspberries and blueberries from extreme temperatures. We developed a low-cost tunnel structure where we can add or remove the plastic cover as per the weather requirements,” she says.

“With this, we can now provide a warmer climate during winter and cooler conditions for growth during the summer, in addition to protecting the crops from rain,” she adds.

Keya installed low-cost tunnels in about 80 percent of her farm and is cultivating at least seven varieties of exotic berries.

“Growing blueberries in high tunnels protects them from extremes of temperature, requires less water, and yields more fruit. This method also helps blueberries ripen earlier,” she says.

“Instead of the usual harvest period that lasts only for a few weeks, we can harvest yields for four to five months with this method,” she adds.

By localising the production of these exotic fruits, Keya aimed to make these healthy, nutritious options more accessible and affordable to a wider audience in India, contributing to better dietary options available locally.