Thanks to the liberalization policy of the Government and development initiatives in the late 1980s, many progressive farming organizations, and individual farmers started adopting innovative technologies and products such as greenhouse to enhance farm yields. This type of protected cultivation not just help reduce expenditure on pesticides and ward off insects and pests but also show viable yield results.
Though cultivation in such controlled atmosphere produces great results, the capital cost required to set up a greenhouse is high. A small farmer in India with a grave financial situation cannot afford to set up a greenhouse in his field, irrespective of how viable results a greenhouse provides.
However, a startup – Kheyti has a solution to this problem. The company has developed a low cost ‘Greenhouse in a Box’ that can be used on a small area of a farm. It not just ensures protection to farm but also guarantees year-round regular income.
This greenhouse is made of simpler materials. It features two layers of shade netting on the top that reduce the temperature inside by 5-6 degree Celsius. Also, the insect-netting on all sides reduces pest attacks by 90%.
Kaushik Kappagantulu, co-founder of Kheyti says, “Farmers make money only once or twice in a year. That income is affected by all sorts of environmental risks, including unseasonal rain, pest attacks…That’s why they are stuck in that poverty.”
Farmers can buy a greenhouse by making a down payment and pay the remaining amount in quarterly installments. Kheyti team is also working with EXTREME (a course at Stanford University’s d school, ‘design for extreme affordability’) to make the design more functional and affordable.
The experiments performed by the start-up in its own farm in Hyderabad in April showed that the plants survived in the greenhouse and gave a steady income (In Hyderabad, nothing grows from April to June as the outside temperature is 115 degrees Fahrenheit). Kheyti’s greenhouse coupled with a drip irrigation system and a shade (to reduce heat and evaporation) reduced water use by 90%.
The founders believe that a greenhouse cannot solve the farmers’ problems alone. Farmers need to be educated about – using the right seeds, fertilizers and why crop fails. The startup thus, also provides training to the farmers to help them practice viable farming and increase the average income.