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Indian growers explore hydroponics at Chennai market

Suresh Pawar grows strawberries in Mahabaleshwar. The 39-year-old farmer works on his roughly 2.5 acres of land everyday, and is doing pretty well for himself. Like any entrepreneur, however, he has ambitions, and has set his eyes down South — Chennai in particular — to fulfil them.

He has been supplying strawberries — “around 500 kilograms a day,” he says — to Chennai for the past two years, but has been looking for a chance to visit the city and see what really happens to his produce once it leaves his farm. The firm he’s tied up with, city-based supply and retail chain SunnyBee, has finally arranged for him to do so, along with around 75 other farmers from various states across the country.

The prices aren’t being set by SunnyBee, but by the farmer bringing in the produce. In fact, the firm plays a role lesser than that of a middleman: setting up the stalls, managing the billing counter, and otherwise staying out of the way as the farmers go about their business, interacting with customers one on one. To make matters operationally easier, “no two farmers will be selling the same produce, though one farmer can definitely bring in more than one kind of vegetable to sell,” says Dasari.

There are over 150 different kinds of crop set to be on sale, besides microgreens and a hydroponics stall. Kale, Italian basil, varieties of lettuce and more, all hydroponically grown, will be put up on offer by Chennai-based hydroponics firm Future Farms. Some at-home hydroponics kits might also be on offer.

“We don’t know too much about microgreens yet in Chennai, because nobody sells it,” adds Dasari, “We’ll be having a couple of people from a firm called Living Greens displaying their crop to the Chennai public as well.”

Read more at The Hindu (Meghna Majumdar)

Publication date: 1/19/2018



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