This app lets you 'subscribe' to a farm, and grow your own fresh veggies

Farming and then consuming the produce of the farm is a dream many in big cities harbour, but few realise. Long work hours and scanty apartment spaces make farming of any kind impossible in metropolitan cities. But this seems to be changing now, thanks to technology.

A young technology-led company, Kosara, is helping people grow their own food in 'virtual gardens' though an app. Kosara maintains a 55-acre farm land just off Sohna Road in Gurgaon. It offers small parcels of 700-square-foot average unit sizes to users on a 'subscription' basis. On this land, the company's workers sow, harvest and home-deliver veggies requested by subscribers. 

You can sign up on the app, pick the vegetables you want to grow and make payments. The app provides information on the progress of your crop, and when it would be ready for harvest. It also feeds in data advising the company to predict demand for various crop items to help manage the farm.

This concept is called community farming, an alternative system that connects producers and consumers within the food system more closely by allowing consumers to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms. It gives urban people not only the joy of owning and maintaining their own farms but also allows them to eat healthy, says Paras Chopra, the man behind Kosara.

Chopra, 27, was a corporate lawyer at law firm AZB & Partner before getting into this venture. His decision of a career change was also borne out by the fact that his father has been a large-scale agriculture producer and exporter for three decades.

"I always knew I wanted to do something in farming," says Chopra. "This is the right time for people like us, with educational backgrounds, to do something in agriculture. Given the current state, it is time we made a difference."

Chopra, along with partner Saurabh Agarwal, a friend from his law school, invested in the Gurgaon land three-four years ago. He used these years to ready the land for farming. Instead of growing something of their own and selling it in the market, they decided on a community farming approach, which, according to Chopra, is the way forward.

In the initial days, Chopra and his team used data and technology to create and perfect some of the best practices in farming, such as drip irrigation, figuring out the right seed variety, best fertilisers for the soil, and training in organic farming. Finally, consumer-facing app Kosara was launched in 2018, with the first subscriber signing up in October that year.

Kosara now has 130 families subscribed to the 'click and grow' model. For them, the company is growing seasonal vegetables on its farm. Chopra says the selling point of Kosara is that users trust it for quality. "Today, a lot of people are selling agricultural produce claiming them to be fresh, but there is no traceability. You have no idea where the food came from. We are giving you traceability as a model. There is no better way than to grow your food yourself," says Chopra.

The Kosara app is the first place where you experience the product. You sign up on the app and decide the item you want to grow on your farm. Workers are given 30-45 days to prepare the land and sow the seeds. After this, when the vegetable grows, it is delivered back to your home every week. Currently, it costs you Rs 3,000 a month to have Kosara manage the 700-square-foot land parcel for you.

The company also offers a DIY (Do-it-Yourself) model. Under this, you can visit and work on the farm yourself, and take home what you produce.

The next step for the company, Chopra says, is to grow the concept of community farming across the country, and have more families joining in. "We are currently looking to take up another piece of land in the Greater Noida region," says Chopra.

Kosara also plans to launch a marketplace on the app to offer exotic and seasonal vegetables and fruits produced at other farms where Kosara has done due diligence for quality. 

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel