Agri Business

Rich harvest for start-ups as hydroponics takes root

TV Jayan, Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on July 03, 2021

According to a report by DataM Intelligence, the Indian hydroponic market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.53 per cent between 2020 and 2027

Pesticide/residue-free products from soil-free farming are becoming popular

Move over organic food. Health conscious consumers are going one step ahead, heading for hydroponic produce or fruits and vegetables grown without soil, and increasingly seen on urban rooftops. Seeing a growing opportunity, a whole host of start-ups has waded into hydroponic farming, offering pesticide-free fruits and vegetables.

Take, for instance, Bengaluru-based Living Food Company backed by several angel investors and VC fund Amasia.

“We are seeing a growth of nearly 200 per cent every quarter in terms of sales and new customer onboarding,” says Akash Sajith, Founder and CEO.

Pune-based Nutrifresh is another start-up that is up to its knees in hydroponic farming, with the idea of providing healthy, residue-free food. With its four-hectare hydroponic farm on the outskirts of Pune, Nutrifresh has been serving customers in Pune and Mumbai, and now has ambitious expansion plans.

Huge potential seen

However Nutrifresh founder Sanket Mehta admits there are challenges. “Due to the higher set-up cost for hydroponic farming, the cost of the produce is also high.” On the other hand, he says, once the economies of scale kick in, the segment has huge potential to grow. “It also helps farmers get steady income and reduce dependence on monsoon,” says Mehta.

It’s not just start-ups. Several established players have got into hydroponics as well. For instance, Noida-based FMCG major DS Group is selling hydroponically-grown fresh vegetables and fruits such as candy and cherry tomatoes, snack cucumbers, sweet snack peppers, bell peppers, and strawberries under the brand name Nature’s Miracle. DS group’s four-hectare glass greenhouse farm in Greater Noida is managed by a team of agriculturalists trained in the Netherlands. Nature’s Miracle fresh vegetables and fruits are dispatched every day to 12 cities, and sold in DS Group’s own retail chain Le Marche.

It also has tie-ups with e-tailers such as Big Bazaar and Milk Basket.

Expansion plan

According to Anchal Kumar, Partner, Nature’s Miracle, the firm plans to expand its hydroponic footprint in the coming years to meet the growing demand.

According to a report by DataM Intelligence, the Indian hydroponic market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.53 per cent between 2020 and 2027.

For those wanting to get into hydroponics, there is help at hand as well. Gurugram-based agritech firm Barton Breeze, which has tied up with many banks including State Bank of India and HDFC Bank is offering bank guarantee to those who want to get into hydroponics. The firm promises a return of 30 per cent on investment annually to progressive farmers who want to get into this growing field.

Published on July 02, 2021

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