Sathya Raju Mokkapati was 17 when he saw a farmer eating mud out of hunger in his village in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. The image stayed with him. Thirteen years later, in 2015, he co-founded an agri-tech startup, Kheyti, along with Ayush Sharma, 37, Saumya Sahay, 33, and Kaushik Kappagantulu, 36, to supplement and enhance the income of farmers through their innovative ‘greenhouse-in-a-box’ method. Kheyti recently won the Earthshot Prize 2022, also called the Eco Oscars.
Sharma and Mokkapati—friends for over a decade—had earlier founded a similar startup, Cosmos Green. The seed for Kheyti was sown when Mokkapati traveled with Kappagantulu to hundreds of villages in India in 2015 as part of Acumen Fellowship, a leadership development program, to understand the problems faced by small farmers—no rains or unseasonal rains, extreme heat patterns and risks of pests due to the heat.
Kappagantulu, who roped in his former colleague Sahay, says, “Many farmers we met said their aim was to generate extra income each month. With that as a goal, we worked backwards and realized that the answer lay in greenhouses, which could minimize risk from vagaries of climate and regularise incomes.”
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