Nearly 240 years ago, American philosopher Thomas Jefferson wrote “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will, in the end, contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” Two and a half centuries later, the maxim still holds true but this wise pursuit needs the backing of technology for efficient resource utilization and cost reduction in the modern world. Today’s farming is more about rethinking and re-engineering processes to more sustainable practices. Hydroponics tops the list among such effective farming practices – making way for crop production without soil; even in densely populated urban regions. In this flourishing space, Emesh Farms Technik (EFT) deserves recognition for its innovative and cost-effective solutions with futuristic technologies in agriculture.
A Purposeful Genesis
"People with passion can change the world for the better." This quote is so true in the journey of Manoj Nigam & Usha Nigam (Directors). Let us hear about the inception of EFT from the passionate founder Manoj: I am an alumnus of IIT Roorkee and have been in the IT and Telecom industry, and worked in various countries for around 20 years. At the age of 36 became the Vice president of Vodafone India.
My interest in Hydroponics and producing healthy vegetables sprouted many years ago; when I used to work in Germany – observing the quality difference between vegetables sold there versus in India. Being a technocrat, I realized that the agrarian Indian economy lags in the use of technology, which is the main reason for the low quality, productivity and income levels of Indian farmers. Approaching this the right way could have not only contributed to the farm sector upliftment but also presented a big and scalable commercial opportunity for a new business. That said, in 2014, I decided to quit my corporate career and venture into Agri-tech. We started with a small 4000 SQFT temperature-controlled polyhouse for our own pilot. Despite a successful growing and demonstrable setup, it was difficult to convince farmers that this new technique can provide cost-effective solutions to their problems. But today, it is a buzzword and is seen as the new trend which is sought by most techies.
A Rewarding League
Despite many challenges such as high-cost initial capital investment, the absence of an ecosystem, and scepticism about the ROI realization, the company has led a fulfilling 8-year journey. Today, it has evolved into a turnkey solution provider.
Usha Nigam adds, “We are EPC providers, manufacturers, and consultants for agriculture operations across India. Our strength is customer connection and customizable solutions. We feel that every client has a unique request, requirements and objective. Since most of them are not from an agricultural background, we need to guide, consult and handhold them about the right solution for their needs. Moreover, the pricing is very transparent and is available on our website. We manufacture greenhouse components, hydroponic components, nutrients, automation; almost everything required to serve our custom ers. We have grown around 30-35% YoY for the last 5 years, with around 10-12% EBITDA. In the last 1.5 years alone, we started setting up our own system in Mumbai. In a short span, our growing facility expanded to 2.5 Acres of hydroponics and around 6 Acres of open land farms. We developed around 65-70 new Hydroponic vegetable farms for our customers across India. We are empanneled as Greenhouse manufacturers with Govt of India and help farmers avail subsidies.
We give lots of focus and importance to Innovation and new product development. In 2022 alone, we developed 12 new components and target to have at least 20 new components developed in 2023 for our product portfolio.”
Innovation & Impact
With a focus on boosting Agriculture Productivity, EFT is using high-tech farming techniques, using less water, labour, and land. It is introducing nutritional, healthy, residue-free vegetables in the market, which is scalable. Moreover, attracting educated entrepreneurs to help agri-sections become more tech-enabled. The company has a cell of dextrous agronomists who are researching various nutraceutical plants and making their own recipes to suit the high-purity norm of the sector.
Speaking of the innovations, the team shares, “We are the front runners in bringing new ideas and changes in the industry. We launched Automatic Hydroponic fodder units, which were temperature and environment control way back in 2014. It became popular and we have sold around 500-600 Hydrponic Fodder units ever since. Likewise, bombar irrigation, digital flow-based inline nutrients infusion etc., are a few of the names of our new indigenously developed products. Various Hydroponic formats such as NFT, Aero towers, water recycling Grow beds, Vertical walls, net cups, siphon buckets, and more are all developed using our own practical and innovative designs. Our integrated controller, which controls all greenhouse, irrigation and fertigation parameters as a single unit is unique in the industry and saves lots of hassles of multiple control systems and money to the end users. Now, it has become IOT-enabled and allows users to take trends and backups for days/months etc. The most important aspect of execution is the detailed and thorough design. We spent significant time zeroing down on the last level of execution details in AUTOCAD. Usually, we come up with around 15-20 designs for every project which are reviewed and approved by our clients. Journey to innovations are in our blood and we have a separate R&D division looked after personally by the director and manned with esteemed engineers to bring new products to life and upgrade the existing products based on feedback.”
Continuous innovations, rigorous customer connection, transparency, in-depth domain knowledge, rich experience, and timely customer service makes EFT stand ahead of its contemporaries. Going forward, the company wants to focus more on corporate customers and charter new territories in the Middle east. “While setting up the farms for other customers, we are building a strong network of like-minded farmers, ramping up our own growing facilities and agriculture R&D to project ourselves in the medium to long term as a nutraceutical and exotic vegetable supplier. We are also in the process of setting up the farmer connect and training centres to spread the awareness and knowledge of high tech and hydroponic based agriculture as a profitable business,” they concluded.