Climate-smart deep-tech start-up Ecozen has focussed on climate-resilient and Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices such as motor pumps and cooling systems, to make agriculture sustainable and to double production. In turn, these systems have helped in generating one billion units of clean energy. 

Devendra Gupta, CEO and Co-founder, Ecozen, told BusinessLine his company has developed irrigation motor pumps and a cooling system that can be installed near farms to keep commodities fresh.

No worries over power cut

“Our smart pump system called Ecotron provides reliable and optimal irrigation; solar panels lay to rest concerns about power cuts and maintenance issues. The Ecofrost storage solution reduces wastage of produce since it uses clean energy,” Gupta said.

Ecozen, which recently raised ₹54 crore of additional funding as the first tranche of the planned ₹200-crore Series C round, has set up 80,000 such pumps that leverage embedded IoT, predictive analytics and advanced motor controls, to help improve irrigation efficiency and agricultural profitability. 

“Earlier, farmers had to wait for power supply to operate these pumps, but our pump system is linked to solar panels. We developed this technology in 2012-13. We visited our customer farmers and in 18 months were able to turn barren land lush green. It also improved their incomes,” the Ecozen CEO said. 

Thermal storage tech

The deep-tech firm, which has got funding from Dare Ventures of Coromandel International, apart from Caspian and Hivos-Triodos Fonds (managed by Triodos Investment Management) through equity, is the first globally, to commercially deploy its cooling system using innovative thermal energy storage technology. 

“We deploy IoT to control temperature and alert the user of any problem that the device is likely to face. About 500 such cooling systems have been set up, with 25-30 farmer producer organisations (FPOs) installing them,” he said.

If the cooling system is taken on lease from Ecozen, it would cost less than ₹1 a kg for the growers, Gupta said, adding that his company was looking to take these technologies beyond farms. 

“Industries such as non-banking finance companies can pay per user. The cost depends on the size and State where it is installed,” Gupta said. 

Slow off the blocks

With the Centre offering subsidies for cooling systems on farms, FPOs could look at the option of installing Ecofrost, which costs a little over ₹1 lakh. Ecozen, which got debt funding from Northern Arc, UC Inclusive Credit, Maanaveeya, and Samunnati, besides investments from IFA and Omnivore, was launched in 2010 and its first product was commercialised in 2013-14. The second product was launched in 2018-19, he said. 

“We are looking at launching a range of products, including large and small systems in the categories we are currently present in,” the Ecozen CEO and founder said, adding that his company was looking at motor drives and electric mobility to replace fuels such as diesel in the future. 

Farmers were slow to adapt to products such as the solar pump for 3-4 years, but once the cost dropped, there was an improvement in sales. One of the features of both these products is that being IoT-enabled, problems can be detected even as there are signs of them developing.

“Our system can detect if any pump can get jammed or when it gets jammed. We can set it right from a remote place. The system can also detect any leakage in the cooling system in advance,” Gupta said. 

Expanding footprint

Currently, Ecozen is present in 10 states, including Maharashtra, Haryana, Odisha, Andhra and Jharkhand, while it has sold products across 20 states.

Ecozen has expanded its footprint in Africa and the South-East in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, Namibia and Zambia. “The market in these countries has evolved for solar pumps. But their supply chain is not as evolved as in India,” he said. 

The Pune-based company, whose revenue topped ₹100 crore last fiscal, adds 150 units of solar systems a day and 2-3 cooling systems. “We are hopeful that 200,000-300,000 farmers will be able to access our system over the next three-four years, Gupta said.