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Article on Agri based Start-up for Preparatory Course “Introduction to Agriculture”

UrbanKisaan
- Agniv Mukherjee
PGP-FABM 2019-21
Roll No.: 2019004

The Beginning
It all started when Vihari Kanukkolu, a Certified Management Accountant, met Dr Sai Ram, a
biotechnology scientist, and brought into discussion the topic of future of farming and water
scarcity. As a result, Dr Sai Ram invited Vihari to his house and showed him the vertical
hydroponic garden that he has set up in his balcony as an experiment. The experiment was
performing well and was already giving healthy supplies to Dr Sri Ram for months then.
Vihari was always concerned about the food crisis the world will be facing in the near future.
After the above incident, he teamed up with Dr Sai Ram and Srinivas Chaganti, a Masters in
Computer Science, to start UrbanKisaan.

The Idea
The start-up, in the field of Urban Farming, grows crops in a vertical hydroponic setup, without
any use of pesticides. Hydroponics is the growing of terrestrial plants without soil, in nutrient
water solution. Even though water is used as the medium of growth, the technique uses 95%
less water than traditional farming, which will help in addressing the increasing water demand
from decreasing water resources.
They believe that vertical hydroponic systems can address various concerns, such as the need
for safer food and year-round produce. Additionally, the system requires much lesser spaces,
lesser attention and decreased labour.
Hydroponics would also address problems such as heavy metal contamination in leafy
vegetables, which can easily be grown in water medium and because the produce can be grown
in one’s home or in farms very nearby, the produce can be harvested and consumed in the same
day adding to the nutritional value.
The start-up also wants to address the problem of decreasing area of arable land due to
degradation.
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Model
The Hyderabad based start-up is selling automated kits for hydroponics to customers. These
kits vary from Rs. 9,900 for 18 plants model to 19,900 for 48 plant model. These kits include
NFT pipes, stand, net pots, sets of special nutrients (the nutrient mix is prepared by Dr Sai Ram
himself) and seeds of leafy vegetables. The customer is supposed to insert the biodegradable
coco coins in the pipe. Then, he/she should add seeds to the coco coins, fill water in the tank
and give electric supply. The kits are energy efficient requiring only 20W of power, require
attention of only 20 minutes a week and avoid GMOs, pesticides and herbicides.
One can grow different vegetables such as Amaranthus, Basil, Cabbage, Celery, Chinese
Broccoli, Coriander, Fenugreek, Kale, Kenaf, Lettuce, Malabar Spinach, Mint, Sage, Spinach
etc.
Once the first 1000 such kits are sold, they plan to close order and see how things work, thus,
learning more about the process.
The customer can use these kits to produce sufficient for his family or can even commercially
sell back the surplus. They will also buy back the produce, rebrand it to sell it in the
supermarkets. Their produce will also have a QR code, which will give one access to the entire
history of the produce, with the help of Blockchain technology. UrbanKisaan has already tied
up with a women entrepreneur club, Womenergy.
They have also set up their first farm at Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, spread over 2500 sq. ft. which
has a capacity of growing 50,000 crops producing 10 tonnes of produce each month. They sell
their produce in 3 packages: ‘Indian Mix’, ‘Spring Mix’ and ‘50/50 Spring and Indian’.
The Indian Mix is a blend of Spinach, Coriander, Mint, Methi and Amaranthus, costing Rs.
600 for four deliveries (1kg each) in the month. The Spring Mix is a combination of greens and
lettuces including romaine and arugula, costing Rs. 800 for four deliveries (1kg each) in the
month. The 50/50 Spring and Indian costs Rs. 700 per month. As of now, the delivery is limited
to 8 km radius of Jubilee Hills.

Incubators
• NAARM a-idea
• ISB D-Labs
• Agri Biotech Foundation
• StartupIndia

Achievements
• Emerged among Action for India (AFI) top 100 social entrepreneurs in India
• One of the top 8 start-ups to feature in Discovery India’s documentary series ‘Planet
Healers’
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Contact
Head Office: 601, 6th floor, Aditya Trade Center Ameerpet, Hyderabad - 500038
Phone: +91 957 3050 444 / +91 955 0670 444
E-mail: support@urbankisaan.com

References
(n.d.). Retrieved from UrbanKisaan: http://www.urbankisaan.com/

Borah, P. M. (2019, March 19). Farm Refreshed: UrbanKisaan. Retrieved from The Hindu:
https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/urban-kisaan-urbankisaan-hydroponic-
vertical-hydroponic-hydroponic-for-home-vihari-kanukollu-dr-sairam-srinivas-chaganti-
planet-healers-discovery-channel/article26578773.ece

Dhar, D. (2019, March 14). Vertical farms to scale up traditional farming. Retrieved from The Hans
India: https://www.thehansindia.com/telangana/vertical-farms-to-scale-up-traditional-
farming-511890

Seema Rajpal. (2018, April 19). The Agtech start-up UrbanKisaan will help us take up farming in our
own balconies. Retrieved from Edex live:
https://www.edexlive.com/happening/2019/jun/12/do-you-want-to-intern-with-a-r-
rahman-arvind-kejriwal-or-terence-lewis-heres-how-6595.html