Achintya Ananda, 29
Niche produce: exotic vegetables
A former chef who honed his culinary skills in cities like Adelaide and New York, Anand’s foray into vegetables and crops began in 2014 when he started supplying edible flowers and microgreens to prominent restaurants in Delhi. Pursuing his passion to work on fresh and unique produce, he started an agricultural crèche in the Chhatarpur area of the capital. “I spend many days in the farm, practicing farming and avoiding the management side, ensuring that the farm produces enough to meet the needs of the customer,” says Anand, who loves being on the farm and getting his hands dirty. Anand supplies vegetables directly to hotels, restaurants and consumers across various cities in India. She can be seen working with pink heart radishes, Japanese black radishes, kale, kale, kale, tatsoi or spoon cabbage, lettuce, mushrooms, beets, squash, and more. Bringing his management skills to the table, he strives to ensure that his farmers get 25% growth every year working with him. He says, ‘Within four years of working with us, the farmer’s income can be doubled. Talking about sustainability, Anand says, “We have tied up with local cowsheds to ensure that green waste is available to feed the cows on our farm.”
Manas Dubashi, 31
Niche Produce: Mushrooms
After receiving a degree from the UK and working as a sales and marketing professional in Gurugram for about five years, Dubashi took forward his vision of starting a mushroom farm. In 2018, after training in mushroom cultivation, he started Kalpavriksha, bringing an international variety of mushrooms to India. “We grow eight types of mushrooms in temperature-controlled units. This product is free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides, soil fumes or chemical fertilizers,” says Dubashi, who works with button mushrooms, portobello, king oyster mushrooms, shiitake, milky mushrooms and more, and will soon launch enoki and shimeji varieties. Dubashi works with traditional farmers who grow regular button mushrooms and is training them to grow exotic varieties like portobello and milky mushrooms. Thus, he is not only giving them skills but also helping them to create new means of livelihood. Dubashi also ensures that his farming practices are sustainable by growing mushrooms on sterilized wheat straw discarded from wheat farms, using the leftover straw as fertilizer after the produce is harvested, reducing waste.
Aparajita Bansal, 29
Niche Produce: Apples
A farmer’s daughter but far from her roots, Aparajita was working as an engineer in Noida when the epidemic hit. When she got some plants to decorate her house and started sharing plant decoration related videos on Instagram, she finally realized her inherent love for plants and farming and returned to her farm in Himachal Pradesh after 14 years. She has been farming ever since, bringing apples and a host of other fresh produce and her technical skills to better sell organic produce from her land. “After learning that my father was selling his apples for less than what we as consumers in the cities were getting, I thought of selling some apples directly to my Instagram audience to avoid the middleman’s commission. It was a great success and then I decided to return to my garden (thanks to my wfh policy) to help my parents farm,” she says. Her main aim is to bring back natural and regenerative methods of farming so that she can improve soil health and food quality. “We are doing a lot of things like crop rotation keeping in mind the weather conditions, planting cover crops to prevent soil erosion and plowing with less digging so as not to disturb the microbial activity in the soil. We also make our own compost,” she says. Apart from apples, Bansal also Pears, pomegranates, prunes, radishes, zucchini, lettuce, radishes, Chinese cabbage and beans are also grown.
Satyajit Shivajirao Hange (41) and Ajinkya Shivajirao Hange (36)
Niche produce: fruits, nuts
Sons of farmers who were sent to boarding school so they could live a life away from farming and get out of the family profession, brothers Satyajit Shivajirao Hange and Ajinkya left their banking jobs and returned to their roots, only to thrive further. Farming world. In 2019, they co-founded Two Brothers Organic Farm in Pune. Bringing their MBA skills to the table, the brothers manage farms with strategic planning, farmer activism, branding, and marketing. “I started this journey to fulfill my dream of working with nature. As a son of a farmer, I thought it was my duty to continue the tradition of farming and since then it has been a revelation,” says Satyajit, who has been able to sell his produce in more than 50 countries. In their farm, the brothers grow wheat, groundnuts, almonds, amla, different varieties of jaggery, different varieties of indigenous paddy, millet, millet, pulses, pulses and beans. The company aims to solve the longstanding problem of excessive chemical and pesticide use in agriculture and offers a variety of products made from natural ingredients. By employing around 200 farmers, the brothers have also established a farmer organization to educate local farmers about the benefits of organic farming. Their company promotes soil biodiversity through cover crops and natural mulching (covering topsoil with leaves, grass, crop residues, etc. to increase the activity of soil microbes such as worms).
Abhinandan Karki, 32
Place of production: Green leafy vegetables
An engineer by education, Karki quit his full-time job in 2016 after more than a decade in the IT sector to return to his roots as he comes from an agricultural background. Along with his partner Ajay Naik, he set up Latesetra Agritech, an indoor vertical hydroponics farm in Goa, where they grow leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, fenugreek, vindi, capsicum and more. Hydroponics is a technique for growing plants using water-based nutrients instead of soil. Bringing his IT skills to the table, Karki says he manages and monitors crops to maximize production and minimize wastage. “We are building new age urban farming services with modern technology. Our farm automation methods reduce crop and water wastage by monitoring the setup 24/7 and alerting farmers when there are changes in preset parameters,” he explains. Karki has already sold his products across India and is expanding his farming operations by developing technology that further supports his eco-ideas. are working to expand.