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German firm Invests in UrbanKisaan which pioneers in hydroponics farming

Hyderabad: Germany-based BASF Venture Capital GmbH has invested an undisclosed amount in city-grown UrbanKisaan, a pioneer in hydroponics farming.

A statement issued jointly by both the companies on Tuesday said UrbanKisaan plans to expand and strengthen its market presence in India with the fresh investment. It also seeks to deploy its farming technology to work with thousands of farmers, and bring fresh, local, sustainable produce to urban dwellers.

Urbankisaan, the Hyderabad-based agri firm, has seemingly transformed the urban farming landscape in the southern states with the hydroponics farming technology that replaces soil with nutrient rich water.

With only one tenth of the costs, the proprietary technology is significantly more efficient than conventional global standards in hydroponics cultivation. The company is also capitalising on the trend of online food retailing.

“Our approach in hydroponics enables us to produce our food cost-effectively and with relatively little effort,” Vihari Kanukollu, co-founder and CEO at UrbanKisaan said.

“Our produce also contributes towards sustainability as it is grown in clean, hygienic farms in and around the city, thus minimising the total carbon footprint. Use of IoT (Internet-of-Things)-enabled technology for monitoring the farms ensures pesticide-free produce. The growing demand from our customers shows that our idea is well-received,” he added.

BASF Venture Capital is the investment arm of German chemicals major BASF. Its investment in UrbanKisaan is the first in India in any stage business. It’s goal is to generate new growth potential for current and future business areas of BASF by investing in young companies and funds, the statement said. The focus of investment is on new materials, AgTech, digitisation and new, disruptive business models.

Hydroponic farming is being hailed as a key technology enabler in solving scarcity of fresh water and agriculture land in face of burgeoning population the world over.

Hydroponics offers a sustainable way to grow crops without soil and using vertically stacked layers while reducing water usage by about 90 percent. In densely populated urban areas, this presents a more efficient way to use limited resources like water, space and manpower. Water that is not absorbed by the plants is captured, purified and fed back into the farm’s water circulation system, minimising wastage significantly.

India is the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, with a production value of about $ 64 billion. It is also a large consumer of fruits and vegetables, and while much of this is through unorganised channels (local vegetable markets, hand-pulled carts and neighbourhood stores), organised channels (modern trade and online retail) account for a little over 20 percent of the market. Thus, hydroponics is a fast growing and efficient alternative to traditional supply chains in the organised fresh produce market.

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