The rows of lettuce, microgreens and herbs that Himanshu Aggarwal and his mother grow in an enclosed room in a busy New Delhi market began flourishing six months ago, just when the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold in India.
It was not the best of times. A day after the Aggarwals launched their hydroponic venture, 9Growers, India declared a stringent lockdown, making them nervous about how they would sell their freshly plucked greens amid the pandemic.
Surprisingly, the situation helped grow their business. Worried about contracting the virus, people began to focus increasingly on healthful foods, and at the same time, shops became willing to stock their produce.
"Vendors were open to having good produce, specially during lockdown. They were not even getting basic necessities, and we were giving them fresh produce harvested on the same day,” said Himanshu Aggarwal, 24, who was inspired to take up hydroponic farming after seeing the quality of fruits and vegetables during a trip to Europe. “Even our best produce could not match theirs. So I thought about how to achieve the same standards for a small community, and hydroponics seemed the answer.”
Amid growing demand for fresh farm produce without pesticides, young entrepreneurs in Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru are turning their attention to hydroponic farming, where plants grow without soil and are fed mineral nutrients through water. Using much less water than conventional procedures do, hydroponics has won attention as a sustainable farming method in several countries, such as the Netherlands.
Read more at VOA news.