A passion for farming and the wish to pursue something he loved inspired Kottayam resident P A Sanjay Kumar to leave his high-paying job and take up agri-entrepreneurship.
In 2014, he started his dairy farm with around 10 cows. He also explored the possibility of using cow urine and dung as organic manure like jeevamrut (organic fertiliser from cow urine and dung) and selling it in biodegradable plastic pouches. This unique venture turned out to be a huge success.
Sanjay’s next aim was to come up with an innovation for farming enthusiasts with limited time and space. He launched his enterprise Green Kairaly in 2016 and came up with the idea of a portable stand for plants, with a self-watering facility that would not consume too much space.
“I believe that there is a farmer in everyone. People who are passionate about farming, especially those living in urban areas, often don’t have enough space or time to venture into it,” Sanjay opines in conversation with The Better India.
Sanjay’s current models have five variations. These setups are all portable and detachable, and come with a built-in drip irrigation system, with an optional rain shelter and a WiFi timer.
‘Moving ahead with the times’
“While different fields are being modernised, innovation happens at a very slow pace in the agricultural sector. People always say we should go back to traditional methods since they are more effective. But I think instead, we should move ahead with the times, by coming up with such practical solutions,” says the 46-year-old.
Sanjay’s second iteration of the model, which he developed in 2020, was an improvement from the first device — this version was portable, detachable, and could hold up to 40 grow bags within a space of 30 sq-ft.
“The first model had several shortcomings. Though it was small and portable, it wasn’t detachable or easy to carry around. and had a capacity of just 10 grow bags. So, an upgraded model was inevitable,” says the automobile engineer, adding that the second model was in a pyramid shape with a rain shelter, and had a special setup for fertilisation.
The fertilisation setup is nothing but a small storage tank attached to the stand, where one can keep organic manures like cow dung or urine mix. “There is a hose that extends from the tank that can be used to spray fertilisers on the plants without the usual hassle,” he elaborates.
In 2021, he launched his third model by linking it to a mobile app that helps one operate the drip irrigation system even when they are not at home. “People often worry about watering their plants while they are out of station. So this model is a leap towards solving that issue,” says Sanjay.
For this system to work, one requires power and a WiFi connection. “A WiFi timer device is attached to the drip irrigation system. After pairing it, it can be linked to a mobile app. Through the app, we can set the exact time we want to switch on the irrigation system and when to stop. This can be operated through the mobile phone, no matter where the person is,” he explains.
Sanjay has also launched different versions of his portable stands for people who wish to grow plants on terraces and balconies. These stands have a capacity of up to 80 and 60 grow bags respectively.
He also launched a portable stand setup that can be mounted on compound walls to grow plants in just 28 sq-ft. This turned out to be one of the best models among his products, he says.
“This vertical stand can be easily attached to the compound walls without drilling or nailing. It doesn’t even create a load on the wall. These stands also come with a fertiliser tank and drip irrigation system that can be connected to the WiFi timer if required,” Sanjay explains, adding that each of these stands can hold 24 grow bags.
“The same compound wall stand can even be used normally if you detach it from the wall,” he says.
Kurien Jacob, a farmer from Thiruvalla in Kottayam, had purchased the wall garden model for setting up his vegetable garden, he says, “I bought one first to test the waters and it turned out to be a success. Within a small space, I was able to keep around 22 grow bags. The drip irrigation method with the WiFi timer is very convenient, especially when you are not at home.”
“Later, I bought two more stands and filled them with more grow bags. Currently, I grow different types of chillies, brinjal, ponnanganni cheera (a type of spinach) and bush pepper plants,” says the 56-year-old, who left his job in a Gulf country to take up agriculture.
Sanjay says that the wall garden model and the balcony model, with a capacity of up to 13 grow bags (available on Amazon), can be sent to customers anywhere, as they are detachable and can be easily assembled. “The others are bigger versions. While they are detachable, it won’t be easy for the customer to assemble them on their own. So, we have to send someone to help them with the assembling,” he elaborates, adding that rain shelter is optional.
Sanjay says that he has invested Rs 40 lakh so far, along with his friend and partner Tony Thomas.
These intelligent and portable garden stands are patented, he says, adding that currently, they have over 200 customers across the country. All their products are priced between Rs 5,000 to Rs 35,000.
“We are now looking forward to finding channel partners and distributors, who can help us in reaching these products to more people,” he says.
For more information and enquiries, you can visit their website.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)