A Mumbai-based start-up, U-Farm Technologies, is using hydroponic techniques to customise modular farms for an individual apartment complex or for a supermarket.
A group of four, comprising three graduate students from Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS) Pilani and a horticulturist, came with an idea of building an automated, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered small scale vertical farming appliance for farming in the city (supermarkets, restaurants, schools, hospitals and households).
Utsav Gudhaka, one of the founders, said the idea was to grow fresh organic food at one’s place. He clarified that U-Farm is not the first hydroponic start-up, but there is a difference. “Here, we will set-up the farm and our professional growers will come everyday doing the routine and the only thing that is required is subscribe to our produce. Our business model will work in an apartment complex having a minimum of 40 families. We are still working on revenue sharing formula with supermarkets,” Gudhaka said.
Hydroponics involves growing healthy plants by using a mineral-rich water solution instead of soil.
While one can grow almost anything hydroponically, some vegetables thrive more in hydroponic systems than others. “We have chosen plants that don’t mind moisture and that don’t get too big for our set up, such as wheat grass, lettuce, herbs, microgreens and leafy greens.”, said Gudhaka.