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Monday, April 22, 2013

Reaching up : Vertical Cultivation

During my recent travels, I got a chance to attend an Agri Trade Show in Atlanta. It was time well spent given the exposure and new ideas that I came away with. Need less to say, I have become a proponent of organized trade shows and symposiums.

In this post, I wanted to share a concept I was particularly interested in. The more I thought about it, my interest deepened beyond just the 'cool-factor'. Here is why I think this is especially interesting in the Indian landscape :
  • Tightening supply of high quality land and meteoric rise in land cost.
  • Increasing cost of logistics and inadequate transport infrastructure in remote agricultural belts.
  • Growing interest in farm-to-table produce in urban eateries.
  • Increase in awareness and consumption about fresh greens and salads.
  • Rapid rise in inflationary trends for food prices.
None of the above parameters are necessarily new or recent discoveries. With that said, there are very few agriculture practices which counter all of the above simultaneously. It's now been a while since Hydroponics has been touted as a method to achieve scale of production with greater predictability. Alterrus is a Canadian company which has taken Hydroponics to the next level. Their vertical growing systems for urban locations were impressive and seemed to achieve serious production volumes with manageable investment.


Urban farming is not a breakthrough but certainly a disruptive approach. Companies like Alterrus continue to develop compact, efficient and highly optimized solutions which often focus to serve the local needs. The vertical system allows the operation to occur at an urban location and produce considerable volumes which is the key to profitability. The big elephant in the room is : Cost. Given the Indian agri-trading landscape, my personal opinion is that such a venture may turn out to be challenging for an individual investor or producer. A group of integrated investors (producer > processor > consumer) should find this an attractive venture.

Investors, food processors, retailers or similar businesses who would like to pilot this concept in Chennai, please feel free to drop us a line. In the meanwhile, here are a few more inspirational winds of change that are blowing from the West :


  1. Sir

    Geek Gardener from Bangalore has designed a small compact Hydroponic kit for home. You may find this useful if you want to have an inexpensive trial unit.

  2. Hi Kaustubh,

    I have been to Growing Power in Milwaukee last summer, I was pretty much impressed by their setup, they have a very low cost setup for Aquaponics, vertical farming, they are growing a variety of veggies, they have been very successful in their system, they sell their produce to the local restaurants and communities around, they are sustaining very well with this concept of urban farming.