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IIT Graduates, Earning Rs.80 Lakh per Month from Exotic Vegetables

The story starts from IIT-Bombay. Two friends Mayank Gupta and Lalit Jhawar were pursuing engineering at IIT. And, in early 2018, Mayank quit his job and returned home for good.

Sangeeta Soni
Mayank Gupta and Lalit Jhawar
Mayank Gupta and Lalit Jhawar

Western Belt of Maharashtra, Kolhapur district is known for its jaggery, footwear, and tourist places. But along with all this, it is also famous for growing organic exotic vegetables. And the reason for that is, aquaponics and hydroponic farms that have come into a small area of 50-acre of land for growing exotic vegetables. Exotic plants including Kale, Lettuce, Pak Choi, Mushrooms and other 40 varieties are grown here and sent to other cities in the country.  

The most important point to note is that the cropping pattern has not been altered by natives; rather, it has been altered by IIT-Bombay alumni with no farming experience. LandCraft Agro is the name of the initiative.

Let us proceed to know more about this idea, and how it came up.

Starting of the Journey

The story begins at IIT-Bombay. Mayank Gupta and Lalit Jhawar, two friends, were studying engineering at IIT. Mayank founded a company named Zilingo and traveled throughout Southeast Asia from 2012 to 2018. And Lalit joined his family's textile and real estate businesses in 2011.

And, in early 2018, Mayank quit his job and returned home for good. He said, “I became homesick and felt the need to work in a sustainable food space in India. I discussed the idea of launching an e-commerce platform for organic and fresh vegetables with Lalit.”

Though, after some research, they realized that their venture won’t be successful. Mayank said, “We had planned to become a channel to access fresh, organic and exotic vegetables from growers and provide them to customers. But, we observed, there were very few who grew good quality organic exotic vegetables.”

Then, they both decided to grow exotic vegetables themselves and sell it. 

Location Selection

“Nashik is the vegetable capital of Maharashtra and it was difficult to understand that we cannot find a good range of exotic vegetables grown here. There is always a taboo in such varieties growing well in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and other Northern states with cool weather,” said Mayank.

After conducting the requisite study, they opted to establish their farm in Kolhapur due to the soil, water availability, and farmer presence. Mayank further added that the geographic position makes it accessible to the market and allows them to quickly convey their items to the marketplaces.

No Farming Experience

And, finally, in April 2019, Mayank and Lalit set up LandCraft Agro in Ichalkaranji, 30 km far from Kolhapur city. LandCraft grows 40 kinds of vegetables on 20-acre hydroponics and 3-acre aquaponics farms. They trained near to 150 farmers to convert 100 acres of land into poly-houses for vegetable cultivation. And, their vegetables are sold under the brand name, Trueganic.

The one-year-old startup is getting a turnover of Rs. 80 Lakh a month. But yes, entering a niche market by growing organic food was no less than a challenge. 

Mayank said, “neither of us had any experience in farming. So, in the beginning, we made mistakes, but then learned quickly from them.”

Co-Founder’s Words

Co-founder of LandCraft Agro, Lalit said, “we accessed a lot of research work and contacted technical experts and advisers to get things straightened out, and then after we learned how to grow organic food. Marketing and convincing customers were the biggest challenges. But, with time, we learned all this. And, COVID-19 pandemic helped people to make better choices and choose healthily. 

Future Plan

They said that the next step is to get farmers to sign up for contract farming and extend the supply chain to multiple cities. 

To read more success stories like this, Keep Visiting…!!

Source- The Better India

(Also read about Harisharan Devgan who got Entrepreneurial Success in Farming)

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