Farming without chemicals and pesticides seems to be a niche area as the produce from such efforts tends to be expensive. However, Pune-based EarthFood, founded by 33-year-old Nilesh Palresha of the VTP Group, has managed to move successfully on the ‘residue-free' farming trajectory. The firm aims to sell relatively more affordable 'residue-free' produce.
Palresha, a mechanical engineer, first joined the family firm –VTP Realty. After a few years, he decided to get into agriculture, where he felt he could work with traditional methods to keep pollution and wastage to a minimum. He took the plunge in 2015 on his 100-acre farm near Pune that follows good agricultural practices (GAP).
GAP is the use of specific methods in agriculture to create food for consumers that is safe and wholesome. The idea of following GAP is to supply 'global standard' vegetables and fruits in the domestic market. In Maharashtra, GAP are employed on around 0.6 percent of all farmland, Palresha told Firstpost. The GAP agriculture market is growing 18.3 percent every year.
Having attracted Rs 6.4 crore in May from 32-year-old Siddharth Khinvasara, Chairman of Pune-based Rairah Corporation, EarthFood got a co-founder. Khinvasara, talking about his investment, said India’s burgeoning start-up ecosystem is home to many youngsters moving towards farming but not everybody aspires to sell reasonably-priced residue-free produce.
Around 80 percent of the money infused by Rairah Corporation will be used to boost production, cultivate new land, for hydroponics, and for the the roll out of new products. The remainder will be used for sales and marketing that would help in enhancing the brand's footprint. EarthFood also plans to sell milk and milk products soon.
EarthFood's produce is priced some 0.5 percent to two percent higher than normally grown (fertiliser-driven) fruits and vegetables. Prices will not get affected by the volatility in market prices, according to the company.
EarthFood, which has a revenue of over Rs 1 crore, started selling fruits and vegetables in Mumbai, post-funding. It plans to enter Bengaluru soon.