After continuously facing issues like water crisis, market price fluctuation, poor quality produce and high cost of fertilizers, pesticides and labor unavailability, a grower from Satara, Maharashtra (India) started working on a hydroponic project. Sudhir Devkar, who comes from a traditional farming background, wanted to "produce high quality, low price exotic quality food with minimum labor, water and fertilizers with zero pesticides usage."
In order to achieve that, along with his co-founder Vikrant Chowdhary he created a commercially viable hydroponics plant, Kryzen. "This is the first commercially successful hydroponic plant in Maharastra", Sudhir tells us. "Most of the other plants are either too small to sustain themselves and some of them rely on hydroponic training or selling hydroponic equipment to generate profit. We have built our farm at 1/4th of the cost of currently available technologies in the market". Sudhir has achieved this by developing everything needed in-house with the help of daily wage workers.
Growing more with less
Sudhir says the operation produces 50 kg of sweet Italian basil every day on an acreage of 5,000 sq. ft., using 12,000 liters of water per month. The monthly operational cost is less than 10,000 rupees [140 USD] which includes electricity, labor, maintenance, packaging and fertilizers, and they are selling at a price point between 50 to 250 rupees per kg [0.70-3.50 USD], based on the season. "This gives me pure profit of one lakh rupees [1,400 USD] per month in the lowest priced market, and in the higher market it goes up to three lakh seventy five thousands [5,250 USD]."
One way in which the Indian duo managed to save on costs, is through developing an in-house mobile application to control their farm, called Houston.Kryzen. "It's artificial intelligence driven, reducing labor requirement by 1/6th compared to traditional farming, giving an accuracy up to 270% stronger than big automation equipment available", Sudhir says.
Screenshot from Houston.Kryzen showing the market pricing tool
With the help of artificial intelligence, the growers are able to track market pricing on a day to day basis. Currently they are tracking 50+ crops across Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore markets. "This gives us flexibility to project market trends along with market requirements and pricing to decide crop cycles and expected financial returns", Sudhir explains.
Sensor output is also processed in Houston.Kryzen
"We developed all this technology and farming method on our own and now we want to spread awareness to other farmers how they can create something like this and safeguard themselves from climatic conditions, market price fluctuation, water crisis and labor issues."
A basic comparison between traditional agriculture and Kryzen hydroponic farm. This comparison is done for basil plant for 50 kg production every day. Data provided by Kryzen.
Currently, Indian retailer BigBasket is one of Kryzen's biggest clients. In future, they are planning to expand into cities where building terraces will be used for vegetable production, which should also help to reduce transportation cost providing fresh produce to consumers.
"We are completely bootstrapped at this stage and invested our own money to set up this farm", Sudhir concludes. "With the help of innovative engineering, we were able to bring down the cost of construction so low that we never went for any loan or subsidy from government."
With the expansion plans, the people behind Kryzen are also looking for more farmers to benefit from the technology they have developed.