Live in the City but Want to Grow a Mini Forest? This Unique Startup Will Help You!
Four years ago, three engineers decided to quit their lucrative jobs at the peak of their careers. The reason? They wanted to undertake scientific and mechanised agriculture.
While the initial idea of the Bengaluru-based trio–Ashok Jayanthi, Sriram Chitlur and Srinath Setty, was to find a piece of land close to the city where they could practice organic farming and grow chemical-free food for their families, little did they know it would culminate into an innovative agri-startup, today known as Hosachiguru.
The Founders of Hosachiguru
What is Hosachiguru?
Originating from the Kannada terms ‘hosa’ which means ‘new’ and ‘chiguru’ which means ‘sprout’, Hosachiguru is a leading agricultural asset management startup that is running over 30 sustainable green projects on 800 acres of land.
When you think about investments, you might consider buying a plot of land away from the city where you’d spend more of your savings, perhaps building a home that you may or may not live in for the next decade. But what if we told you, despite living in the city, you could invest and buy a piece of land, which could be transformed into a mini-forest and get you returns ?
And you don’t even have to think about its maintenance. Everything will be done for you! Plus, you’ll have organically grown and pesticide-free produce from this mini-forest delivered at your doorstep weekly.
Well, the Bengaluru-based agricultural asset management startup with its latest Eco-habitat project is doing exactly that!
Speaking to The Better India, the trio explains the inception of the company saying,
“When we decided to take up farming ourselves, and hunted for farmland, we travelled across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. It was during this ground research that we realised that procuring, buying as well as maintaining farmland was no child’s play. Either the cost of the land was too high, or it was too remote to be within our reach. But we were passionate about farming and willing to go the extra mile. As a company, we decided to procure 20-30 acres of farmland. We fenced it, dug borewells, sowed seeds, got farm labour, all by ourselves. But slowly our work started piquing the curiosity of those in our social circles. People started asking us for tips.
Sriram Chitlur shares, “It was at the time we thought, why don’t we sell the pieces of land to these people and manage it on their behalf. That’s how we started getting customers on board and started rolling one project after another.”
Whether it is their retail project that helps investors get long-term income from timber cultivation or their upcoming eco-habitat project, their road to success was full of challenges.
The trio travelled across the globe to understand the best-mechanised farming practices. Despite the massive exposure to a wide range of practices across different countries, they decided to come up with the own techniques to ensure that they brought down the cost without compromising on quality, while also ensuring maximum yield and profit.
Srinath observes, “While the labour costs to maintain an acre or two of land is as high as Rs 30,000 – 40,000 a month, we had to innovate techniques and build operations at a scale to ensure the same piece of land only required a labour cost of Rs 5000 a month thus ensuring better returns for our stakeholders.”
How are their methods different from those used by traditional farmers?
Micro-bunding for rain water harvesting.
Regular farms are designed by the farmers, based on years of knowledge and experience. But one cannot overlook the fact that if a farmer maintains an acre of land, his primary premise is to rely on rainwater and grow cash crops like pulses and brown rice during the monsoons. Many farmers don’t have the scope nor the resources to scale up their operations or use mechanisation for the small piece of land. Plus, the lack of insurance, marketing challenges and uncertainty of climate, only add to their woes.
With the resources and mechanisation available at their disposal, Hosachiguru follows some sustainable and mechanised practices. A classic example of this is how they dedicate a few acres of farmland and turn it into a catchment area for rainwater harvesting with contour bunds, drenches, compartment bunds, soaking pits, mounds etc.
In 2016 alone, they were able to save a whopping 1.2 crore litres of water on a 35–acre farm during heavy rains that lasted 45 minutes. This water lasted them for seven months until the dry summers. And so, they have successfully built a system where they are not reliant on groundwater for sustenance.
Besides this, Hosachiguru also uses the method of biodiverse farming to replicate the ecosystem of natural forests with zero residue farming methods, bio-fertilisers, bio-pesticides, live mulching, intercropping, integrated pest management and the inclusion of a diverse variety of herbal plants.
“So all you have to do is own or invest in a piece of farmland, and we will manage it for you with the best agricultural practices. You don’t have to worry about the farm operations, labour, power & water availability, soil conditions, sale of produce etc. You can enjoy the true spirit of the farm by getting chemically free produce at your doorstep,” says Sriram Chitlur.
Additionally, you can also visit the land whenever you please, participate in the farm activities, enjoy the hospitality or just bask in the glory of your mini-forest!
Under its latest eco-habitat project which is spread on 16.5 acres and is an hour away from the international airport in Bengaluru, Hosachiguru is selling quarter acre farm plots.
Each of these plots will be demarcated, have road access, water supply through drip irrigation and underground pipes, access to borewell, centralised water distribution and a nursery to grow fruits and vegetable plants.
Overview of the farm
This project will also have sustainable homes built using compact stabilised earth bricks (CSEB) to serve as weekend getaways or post-retirement dream homes close to nature.
Today, Hosachiguru has over 100 customers who have bought various farmland projects, and the number is only growing. The average investment required for a project is Rs 15-18 lakh per unit. In the next 365 days, the trio envisions to add another 1,000 acres of land to expand their projects.
Today, Hosachiguru works with over 300 farm labourers living in native villages close to their farmlands spread across the three states. Many of these labourers are uneducated and come from impoverished backgrounds. But the team at Hosachiguru has helped them unlearn unscientific agricultural practices and skilled them in sustainable practices.
These farmhands (which include many landless labourers and several others with small but barren pieces of land) are not only successfully maintaining the day-to-day working of Hosachiguru’s extensive agriculture projects spread over 800 acres of land but are also replicating similar sustainable practices like maintaining biodiversity, multi-crop management, bunding etc., on their land to make it agriculturally viable.
What’s better than investing in a property that gives your life a purpose and ensures food security for your future generations besides transforming the lives of the underprivileged?