Indian engineer builds rooftop farms to cut down building heat and grow produce

With a degree in agri-engineering, Prateek Tiwari recognized the potential of organic produce much before its massive popularity today. To simplify the farm-to-fork supply chain, Prateek started an organic farming company in 2003, but it soon shut down in 2006. 

“There was no organized retail at that time. It was also difficult to convince farmers not to use pesticides,” Prateek tells. However, he sees that failure as a “negative inspiration”, which drove him to build The Living Greens over the past eight years. The Jaipur-based company was built with a unique idea: “what if people could grow organic produce right on their rooftops?” 

The Living Greens spent the first four years building its product — a portable farming system. “We focused on creating an organic kit, which has a combination of sprays and root fertilizers with modern biocontrol agents and Vedic formulations, like neem-based formulations,” Prateek explains. Once the startup acquires a customer, it tries to understand their interests, and depending on factors such as the season, it provides them with the right seeds and guidance. 

The Living Greens ships the system in pieces, which can be reassembled and self-installed by the customer with the help of the startup’s online support. To date, it has sold between 5,000-6,000 systems. “The pandemic really catalyzed the interest in our product,” Prateek says. 

As people were stuck in their homes after the onset of COVID-19, they began recognizing the unutilized space that existed on their terrace and saw the potential to do something with it. “As you’re covering the rooftops, the building doesn’t get heated up as much. When heat reduces, the electricity consumption also goes down,” Prateek explains. 

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