#010 👨🏽‍🌾 High Tech / New Age Farming

Seaweed, Mushrooms, Hydroponics & Much More!

Hi 👋, Siddharth here.

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🥡 Takeaways

  1. Many niches are opening up in Indian new age farming (vegetables, flowers, etc.) - find a niche and dominate.

  2. Mushroom farming in India grew 48x between FY14 to FY18 but is still only 2% of global mushroom production.

  3. Union Budget 2021 specifically mentioned seaweed farming as an emerging sector that can transform coastal communities and wants to set up a multipurpose seaweed park in Tamil Nadu.


Farming is changing around the world with the adoption of technology. These changes have made The Netherlands, that tiny country in Europe, the “globe’s number two exporter of food as measured by value” with $111 billion of agri exports in 2017.

People are calling this New Age or High Tech Farming.

Our own interest in high tech farming started several years ago - Siddharth even tried to start a hydroponics farm. We were reminded about this trend with the announcement in the Union Budget to start a multipurpose Seaweed Park in Tamil Nadu.

We took this as a cue to speak to India’s largest Seaweed farmer, the 3rd largest Mushroom farmer and others. We’ll release all these conversations on our podcast.

Talking to these people, we realised that there’s a revolution happening at the niches of farming in the country - new floriculture, hydroponics, aquaculture, seaweed, mushroom, etc. farms are being set up across the country and providing riches to the people who can correctly exploit these niches.

Even the face of farming is changing - urban dwellers are moving back to the villages and taking these new farming concepts along with them. From growing flowers (floriculture) in polyhouses to growing vegetables without soil (hydroponics), these new styles of farming are bringing with them new opportunities to build businesses.

In today’s Newsletter, we explore the opportunities to build profitable businesses in the high tech farming segment in India.

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🌽 What is High Tech Farming?

“High Tech farming uses technology to increase yields, ensures high quality (usually pesticide-free) and realizes increased market value. Growing temperate vegetables in a tropical climate and developing disease-resistant plants through genetic engineering are common examples of hi-tech agriculture.

Advantages of high-technology farming

  • Increase in yield up to 5 to 8 times – high productivity per unit area

  • Significant saving in key inputs like water (up to 50%), fertilizers (25%) and pesticides.

  • Better growth and uniformity in quality

  • Feasible even in undulating terrains, saline, waterlogged, sandy & hilly lands.”

Source

High Tech farming is far more capital intensive because of the need for specialised equipment, maintenance of assets, training of labour, and more.

🧐 Market Gap

💰 Market Size

Floriculture: Global market of $43 Bn in 2018 & India exports only $75 million.

Aquaculture: $5 billion export market size in India already.

Mushrooms: Worldwide market of $17 billion, miniscule in India right now.

Seaweed: “30 million tonnes annually … a business worth more than $6bn (£5bn) worldwide.”

🥊 Players

Hydroponics

  1. Landcraft Agro

  2. Nature’s Miracle

  3. Herbivore Farms

    • Hyperlocal farm in a 1,000 sq. ft. space in Andheri East, Mumbai

  4. Hydrilla

    • Takes you to a list of prices of differently sized Hydroponic farms.

  5. Pindfresh

  6. Hydrobloom

  7. Ponic Greens

    • Hydroponic solutions for consumers.

  8. Brio Hydroponics

  9. Triton Foodworks

  10. Farms2050

  11. 8 Hydroponics Startups Helping Urban Indians Grow Their Own Food!

Floriculture

  1. ICAR - Directorate of Floricultural Research

  2. Florance Flora

  3. Karuturi Global - 45cr Market Cap

    • Karuturi bought a Kenyan Rose producer in 2007 for 50 million euros.

    • What happened to this company? Something went seriously wrong.

Aquaculture

  1. Avanti Feeds - 6,671cr Market Cap

  2. Water Base - 590cr Market Cap

Seaweed Farming

  1. Aquagri Processing Private Limited

    • Look out for our upcoming podcast episode with the founder.

  2. Sea6 Energy

    • “biofuel company based in Bangalore, India that focuses on the "macroalgal" fuel source of seaweed.” - Wiki

  3. AK Seaweeds

  4. Agrilife

Mushroom Farming

  1. List of Mushroom Farms in Tamil Nadu & Puducherry

  2. N-Agro Mushrooms

  3. Jiwa Foods Private Limited

  4. Hy-Tech Organic Farms

    • Helps you build your own Mushroom farm.

    • Check this link for project costs and production volume.

  5. Kangra Mushroom Farm

  6. Salubrious Mushroom Farm is Punjab’s first Hi-tech Mushroom grower

  7. SKV Mushroom Farms

🙏 Our Predictions

  • Capital will enter this market in droves as high tech farming provides a modern opportunity for a necessary and age old business.

    • As capital enters, these high tech farms will become streamlined - similar to the factory-like efficiency in The Netherlands.

    • International capital and technology will flow into this industry.

  • Food processors look for consistent supply - look for backward integrations into these high tech farms.

    • Food processing & food brands are a booming business themselves with a lot of venture capital money flowing into this market.

  • Agri Exports from India is still an under exploited source of foreign income.

    • As we become more efficient in growing, look for an increase in exports across the board - especially vegetables & flowers.

    • Flowers especially are an export potential that is widely underexploited. We only export $82 million of flowers - even East Africa has done far better at flowers than us.

      • I have a friend who started a hydroponics Rose export business 3/4 years ago which is doing quite well.

  • Urban dwellers will increasingly demand locally produced, high quality vegetables driving Urban Farming (not just on the side of train tracks in Mumbai).

    • Stories like these of city dwellers moving out and starting a farm will become commonplace.

  • Climate change will make traditional farming difficult due to more extreme weather events, changing rainfall patterns, desertification, etc.

    • Growing food in controlled environments will mitigate most of these issues.

  • As the government focuses more on improving Ease of Business, entering this industry will get easier.

    • At this moment, you require a tonne of licenses to start any type of farm.

🛒 Opportunities

  • Build high tech farms like Hydroponics/Mushrooms etc. for others - either on a commercial scale or terrace gardens for co-op housing societies.

    • Learn high tech farming from The Netherlands - lots of that happening right now. You’ll have many options to leverage these skills in the future.

  • Build your own Urban/peri-Urban farm using Hydroponics or other high tech farming techniques to serve urban demands.

  • Grow Hops using hydroponics to target micro-breweries or craft beer brands.

  • Start floriculture or mushroom farming - the export potential is huge.

  • Develop IoT or SaaS solutions for various niches in the high tech farming industry.

    • High tech farming can use IoT in a big way for environment monitoring and many other applications - these can be customised for different niches.

    • A SaaS application for analytics for tomatoes in hydroponic farms in The Netherlands? Or cucumbers or some other plants?

🧐 Looking to explore this market?

You can drop us an email and we’ll do our best to connect you to relevant people.

Email Us

🔗 Links

  1. Growing Soil-Less With Hydroponics: An Introduction to Innovative Farming at Home

  2. Why cage-based aquaculture is all the rage in India

  3. The fish farming industry of India

  4. Federal grant could help to quadruple US seaweed aquaculture volumes

  5. Australia's $100 million seaweed farming ambition

  6. MANUAL ON SEAWEED FARMING

  7. Produces 500 Tonnes Vegetables In Just 20 Acres

  8. Current trends and Prospects of Seaweed Farming in India

  9. Seaweed resources in India – current status of diversity and cultivation: Prospects and Challenges

  10. THE SEAWEED RESOURCES OF INDIA

  11. Resources for Mushroom Growers