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India: Startups reaping dividends in urban farms

The urban farming startup ecosystem could be worth $1billion in India in the next two to four years and will become essential due to environmental concerns

By Shashwati Shankar
Economic Times India
Jan 5, 2018


In the past three to four years, more than a dozen urban farming startups have been launched in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Jaipur and elsewhere. They provide services such as setting up rooftop and balcony farms for independent homes and companies to vertical farming options for those with more wall space than floor area.

“I began with conducting farming and gardening workshops but in the last one or two years we have seen interest significantly increase,” said Kapil Mandawewala, founder of Edible Routes. “I get about 30 orders a month, with a majority coming from independent homes and the rest from community centres, educational institutions or corporates.” Edible Routes was registered in 2016 but was operational in the urban farming space for three years prior to that. Mandawewala began experimenting with farming on family owned land in Gujarat in 2008.

The space for terrace, balcony or farm gardening could range from 50 square feet in a balcony to 50 acres on a farm, with the initial pricing to start a terrace garden ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000. “The maintenance cost for most urban farms usually ranges between Rs 1-2 lakh in a year, whereas for the gardens it’s a few thousand rupees. This remains a challenge as 10 out of 20 requests from customers interested in setting up an urban farm are lost because of the initial investment,” said Mandawewala. Delhi-based Edible Routes has operationally broken even and makes revenue of Rs 3-5 lakh a month, he said.

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