In recent years, global warming has lead to a rapidly changing climate in India; temperatures across the country have reached soaring highs, negatively affecting the crops of many farmers. In fact, farmer suicides in India reached over 8000 in 2015 as a result of this. Now, a farming technology startup named Kheyti is hoping to remedy this with their Greenhouse in a Box (GIB).
Founded in late 2016, Kheyti develops, designs, adapts and implements low-cost farming solutions. With approximately 120 million farmers working in India and most available greenhouses having been designed with farmers in already developed countries in mind, they knew an affordable solution for low-income farmers was needed.
Simple and low-cost, Kheyti’s GIB product is a modular structure that protects crops from harsh elements. Taking up roughly two per cent of the land area of a typical small farm in India, it features two layers of shade netting on the top to reduce the temperature inside, while insect netting surrounding all sides reduces pest attacks by up to ninety per cent.
More than just a method of growing produce, Kheyti hopes to provide a pathway out of poverty for its GIB farmers. Through training programmes, market advisory systems and financial aid measures, they aim to increase low-income farmers’ level of self-reliance and empower them with a sustainable income.
“If we give them a greenhouse and they don’t have access to the right seeds and fertilizers to be used inside, the crop fails and they’re back in the same cycle,” Kheyti co-founder Kaushik Kappagantulu told Fast Co. Design. “If we don’t give them the right training needed to manage any diseases or growing practices that need to be done inside, again, the crop fails. If they can’t get access to the financing to buy the greenhouse in the first place, not enough small farmers are going to buy it.”
Currently working on the proof-of-concept alongside 15 farmers who have purchased units, Kheyti plans to increase this number to 300 over the next year. Their recent selection for competition in Northwestern University's annual VentureCat startup challenge – where they’ll be competing for 100,000 USD investment capital – may help push this goal along significantly.
Visit Kheyti’s website for more information.