Consider Reshma, a smallholder farmer in South India who owns 3 acres of land. Over the last 5 years, we’ve come to know Reshma as a force of nature. She brings immense energy, enthusiasm and drive every single day to a profession that is often unforgiving. Last year, half of Reshma’s tomatoes were destroyed by pests. This year, an unseasonal rain wiped out her capsicum crop. Her land lies fallow for 6 months due to excess heat that she says is growing worse. The truth is, for Reshma, hard work doesn’t pay.
It isn’t just Reshma’s problem. 100M small farmers in India (NSSO) have extreme income variability and LOSE money on average from agriculture. 75% of farmers (CSDS) want to quit farming because of this variability. Small farmers grow 80% of food globally, this is now a problem that affects everyone.
Learning from 1000s of conversations with smallholder farmers like Reshma, we’ve created the Greenhouse-in-a-Box (GIB), a low-cost, modular greenhouse bundled with services. The GIB turns small farmers into climate resilient smart farmers.
Designed for Reshma, the GIB costs 50% the cost of regular greenhouses and is modular to fit in 2% of her land making it a technology she can afford. It helps her grow 7 times the food using 90% less water, increasing water efficiency at least 50x per kg of produce grown. It uses insect netting to cut pests by 90% and shading to reduce heat and extend growing season to year-round. Most importantly, it largely cuts out the risks of climate, ensuring that Reshma earns steady incomes her hard work now pays off.
Technology alone is not enough because small farmers face risks at every step. We make the GIB affordable by partnering with banks & getting farmers low-cost loans to purchase the greenhouse. We help farmers use the greenhouse in the right way by providing input linkages, training & extension in-person and remotely. We help farmers earn more by helping them get the best price for their produce by partnering with retailers. All of this creates a seamless path out of poverty. Our farmers use the GIB to earn assured incomes of $100/month, a 100% increase in family income using just 2% of their land.
Over the past 2.5 years, we have designed this amazing product, built stellar partnerships, built a proof of concept with 154 farmers and signed up 1000 farmers to expand the model to next year. We've won various awards for our initial work and have been featured in NatGeo, Outlook Business, FastCo, and Forbes. We are supported by fellowships from the Mulago Foundation, Acumen and Kellogg. Our vision is to serve a million farmers and ignite a smart farmer revolution.