Kern Agrawal was just 20 when he was introduced to the bliss and sanity of organic gardening and urban farming by his long-time girlfriend and now wife, Ranjani, over a decade ago.
Kern was ushered into the art and science of agriculture in his final year of MBA at the Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA) in Chennai. He chanced upon the idea to convert urban farming or gardening into a viable business model. Four of his classmates joined him.
The group did real-life demonstration of their business model at LIBA. Till date, a large portion of the organic vegetables used to prepare food in the canteen is being sourced from its own gardens.
In 2014, with five years of experience in the banking sector, Kern quit his job and nosedived into a full-time urban farming initiative, The Urban Farmers (TUF), to help city vegetable growers in monetising their efforts.
TUF helped Chennai’s organic gardeners, both households and corporate, with tools and knowledge, and consultation. Mingling at such micro levels introduced them to the challenges of organic agriculture—composting, seed, and microgreen supplies. To keep growing organic food and to obtain maximum output, organic manure was a mandatory requirement.
Carbon Loops is Kern’s newest venture that he floated with his wife Ranjani to close the circle of organic farming, natural composting, minimising waste and carbon footprints. “Rural India grows food that travels to urban India, where it is consumed and the waste is dumped at the landfills leading to pollution. We collect the biodegradable food waste from large canteens, and scientifically decompose it,” he says.
LIBA became their first client, with two-tonne biodegradable waste being collected from the institute’s kitchen on a daily-basis. Kern and Ranjani would soon be recruiting more hands to help with the expansion.