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“We think of hydroponics as a tool for change."

It started with a casual conversation. Sriram Gopal, the founder-chief executive of Chennai’s hydroponics tech firm Future Farms, was at the house of a friend who had just become a father. “I had gone to congratulate him," recalls Gopal, 38, who ran an IT company then. They got talking about food and its impact on health. “I felt strongly about this (food quality) too," says Gopal, adding that the friend, who worked in the food industry, introduced him to a documentary on hydroponics.

The film piqued Gopal’s interest, and he began reading about the method to grow plants without soil. “We started working with hydroponics as a project in 2012. At that time, we didn’t know much about the plight of farmers and how a technology like this could add value," he says. The idea was to create awareness among the right audience and sell “through prototypes and hobby kits."

Two years later, Future Farms was born. It went on to set up its first commercial hydroponic lettuce farm in the Nilgiris that supplied to a multinational quick service restaurant chain, the first of its kind in the country. Over the next six years, the company established varisized projects across India, even a few outside it. Hydroponics can make farming more sustainable, says Gopal. “We think of hydroponics as a tool for change." 

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