BASF Venture Capital invests in Indian hydroponics pioneer UrbanKisaan

07/13/2021 — BASF Venture Capital (BVC) invests in the Indian start-up UrbanKisaan, which specializes in the hydroponic cultivation of various vegetables, greens and herbs in tropical urban environments. The move is BVC’s first investment in an early stage business with a focus on India.

UrbanKisaan was founded in 2017 and operates several suburban greenhouses and vertical indoor farms in Hyderabad and Bangalore. The company sells fresh products, some of which are grown directly in the shops, in its own franchise branches as well as via an app and a website. The parties have not disclosed financial details of the investment.

Hydroponic cultivation
UrbanKisaan has optimized hydroponic technology for use in tropical climates such as India.

At just a tenth the cost, the proprietary technology is significantly more efficient than traditional global standards in hydroponics.

Click to enlargeBVC’s first investment in this early Indian stage strengthens AgTech’s activities in Asia.The company also relies on the online grocery trade, which is booming on the subcontinent. “Our approach to hydroponics enables us to produce our food cheaply and with relatively little effort,” says Vihari Kanukollu, co-founder and CEO of UrbanKisaan.

“Our products also contribute to sustainability as they are grown in clean, hygienic farms in and around the city, thus minimizing the entire carbon footprint.”

“The use of IoT (Internet of Things) -capable technology to monitor the farms ensures pesticide-free products. The growing demand from our customers shows that our idea is well received, ”he explains.

Adaptation to needs
UrbanKisaan’s farms are managed using their proprietary technology. Nutrient content, pH value, humidity, CO2 concentration, light concentration and other vital parameters are controlled via the app and adapted to the needs of the respective plants.

“UrbanKisaan has developed a unique cultivation method and combines it with a convincing business model for sales,” comments Markus Solibeda, Managing Director of BVC.

“AgTech is one of our most important investment priorities worldwide. This includes, in particular, our goal of supporting innovative agricultural and food companies in Asia, ”he outlines.

With the investment from BASF, UrbanKisaan plans to further expand its market presence in India, use its agricultural technology to collaborate with thousands of farmers and offer city residents fresh, local and sustainable products.

Optimize limited resources
The world population is expected to reach 10 billion people by 2050, while the land and freshwater reserves available for agriculture are becoming increasingly scarce.

Hydroponics offers a sustainable way of growing plants without soil and with vertically stacked layers, while reducing water consumption by around 90 percent. Click to enlargeUrbanKisaan’s farms are managed using their proprietary technology.

In densely populated urban areas in particular, this offers a more efficient way of using limited resources such as water, space and labor more efficiently.

Any water that the plants do not ingest is captured, purified and returned to the farm’s water cycle system, significantly reducing waste.

India is the second largest fruit and vegetable producer in the world. It is also a large consumer of fruits and vegetables.

While much of this occurs through unorganized channels (local vegetable markets, handcarts, and convenience stores), organized channels (modern retail and online retail) make up just over 20 percent of the market.

This makes hydroponics a fast growing and efficient alternative to traditional supply chains in the organized fresh produce market.

Published by Elizabeth Green

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