Gaurav Narang, an alumnus of IIM Kolkata was working in the pharma sector when he first made the correlation between poor quality of food and various disease conditions.

In an attempt to solve this problem, he began reading up on how produce could be procured from different farms and then sold directly to consumers.

During his research, he stumbled upon the idea of hydroponics.

“Through further reading, I understood that this, though an attractive option, had once failed in India on its advent,” he notes.

Narang thus took it up as a challenge to start a venture that would ensure large-scale production of fresh, safe and healthy food for the masses, and do this through low-cost technology.

In 2017, Narang quit the pharma sector to start CityGreens with his wife, Shwaita.

The couple was joined by Rahul Indorkar, another IIM Kolkata alumnus, as a co-founder in 2020.

Once a farmer approaches CityGreens, the team first researches to understand if the crop he wishes to grow will be viable under hydroponics.

Next, the location is assessed by CityGreens experts and then climate patterns are mapped to decide on whether the farmhouse should be climate-controlled or ventilated naturally.

The planning stage takes around a month.

The team then sets up a polyhouse or integrates hydroponics technology on the farm and continues visiting the farmer to assess the crop’s performance.

“During these weeks, a dry run is conducted to check the technology, and then our agronomists visit the farmers to help them with transplantation of the vegetable saplings,” adds Narang.

By integrating their automation into the farm, farmers can ensure that human errors are eliminated, and productivity is increased.

CityGreens has four farms in Ahmedabad, out of which three are hydroponic, one is indoor, and another is a hydroponic farm in Bengaluru.

“The food we grow here gets supplied to companies like BigBasket, Milk Basket, Gabbar Farms, and retail stores, through which the food is sold to end consumers,” he says.

The team has also set up several indoor vertical and polyhouse hydroponic farms for farmers across India.

In addition to this, they provide kits, nutrients, lights, and other inputs for hobby growers.

For their work, CityGreens was awarded a Rs 65 lakh grant from the government in 2022.