9Growers India

This interview details 9Growers, an indoor farming company based in India. The interview is with Himanshu Aggarwal, Co-Founder & CEO of 9Growers.

Source: 9Growers

What is the origin story of 9Growers?

Like many tech-companies started from humble means, and from a small garage, 9Growers was started from a small balcony farm we created in our apartment in New Delhi. We had seen in a video that instead of soil, plants are also grown using water as a medium, and of-course our fascination knew no bounds. Little did we know the use-case of the farming technique, hydroponics as they all call it, especially for densely populated cities like ours. We are talking about early 2019 here and there was little-to-no knowledge bank or resources available in Delhi. Looking at details on the internet, we managed to build a prototype vertical farm. From there we started growing salad greens, selling to friends and families, taking feedbacks, and the journey started. 

Source: 9Growers

What are some of the biggest challenges facing 9Growers in the future? 

Regulatory norms are definitely one of the primary challenges for tech-assisted farming businesses in India. We are not able to receive the benefits enjoyed by traditional farmers, viz. a viz, highly-subsidized energy prices, free clean water, affordable land parcels. Because of all these factors, the true cost of food is not known to a farmer and produce of vertical farm looks premium to consumers. However, if you deep dive in the unit economics of traditional farming, and negate the subsidy benefits, you’d find that our farms are delivering better financial matrix and holds a strong potential of contributing significantly to the Agri-GDP of the state.

Source: 9Growers

Other key challenge is lack of awareness among consumers about where their food is coming from, how it is grown and the missing connect between the farmer and consumer due to multiple layers of distributors in the entire food supply chain. It will take huge investment in terms of time and money to educate the masses (including government) about shifting, or at-least complementing the traditional farming practices with tech-assisted and climate-resilient farming methods. We have rolled multiple projects aimed at youth-participation in agriculture as the farmer population is on a decline. In the digital era where everything is done using AI and ML, there are un-addressed concerns about who will farm for us in the future. One such project is Project Pahal (Pahal means Initiative; first step). It is our first step towards educating young minds about advanced farming methods, providing them with financial and non-financial assistance to take up their projects and mentoring them from young age about business functions like sales, marketing, accounting and team-work. 

Source: 9Growers

What is unique about 9Growers compared to competitors? 

We have always been a consumer-first business aiming at zero wastage in an industry where average wastage is above 35%. We follow a strict harvest-on-demand model to avoid food wastages; we have never relied on cold storages and have always catered to consumers living around our farms. Our consumers have reported that the leaves procured from us stayed fresh for over a month in their refrigerators. Some of them even joked that we cast some sort of magic spell on our leaves. And yes, it is magic, even for us. Before 9Growers, we never knew the taste, quality, texture, aroma and shelf life of vegetables could be so good. Now since it is a reality, we endeavor to reach masses with our wide range of produce, atleast enough to meet their everyday requirements for most of the vegetables.  

Source: 9Growers

How do you measure the impact of your company so far? (Revenue, Employees, Customer Quantity, Production Volume) etc? 

For us, revenue has never been a measure to assess impact of our work. It has always been customer satisfaction, efficiency, increased crop yield, worker-satisfaction and empowerment since 90% of our workforce is women coming from not-so-privileged sections of our society. We have been kind to have investors that believe in our vision and are not revenue-driven. We all know that controlled environment farming practices will play a significant role in strengthening supply chains, and how we are preparing ourselves to feed the growing population using lesser resources, is what drives our work.  

Source: 9Growers

What have you learned that you wish you knew when you started the company? 

That it is not possible to please everybody. All age groups have very different working style and you can’t really expect others to be equally committed and driven to your cause. Things will take time, projects will be delayed, funds will take time to reflect in your account, and customers will slowly come in. Nothing happens overnight so keep reasonably good margins in all your plans. 

Source: 9Growers

How can people connect with you or learn more about 9Growers? Are there images for the article you prefer to be used? 

It is very easy to reach us. You can check our website www.9Growers.com our Instagram handle @9Growers or even drop us a WhatsApp at +91 8800 2020 96 and you will be well assisted.

Source: 9Growers

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