Research and Development

Bring The Farm and Fork Closer…And Greening The Planet!

Bring The Farm and Fork Closer…And Greening The Planet

Lockdowns, which are the bane of the Corona Pandemic and which shall become a part of our regular lives, have taught us a bitter lesson…the farm has to come closer to the fork!
Food miles, which were rising exponentially, will have to shrink drastically and hyperlocal food chains will become more viable. Not only would this crash the fuel cost and the in-transit wastages but it would also give a new lease of life to the local growers.
A new category of local growers shall rise……..the urban growers!
The Urban Growers shall turn the clock back, by converting the rooftops of the concrete jungles into lush green rooftop organic farms.

Rooftop Organic Farms shall spawn organic consumers around them leading to the creation of a hyper-local community consisting of growers and consumers. Not only will the consumers consume the fresh organic vegetables from rooftop organic farms but would also sell composted vegetable-waste, which is a nutrient-rich organic fertilizer, back to the rooftop organic farms. This creates a closed-loop hyper-local organic community which not only grows and consumes fresh vegetables, it recycles back the wastages of the vegetables into the rooftop organic farm, as bio-fertilizers, to grow more organic vegetables.
A rooftop organic farm of 1000 sqr ft would grow almost 2000 metric tonnes of fresh vegetables in a year and would utilise about 2000 kg of composted kitchen waste. This 2000 kg is created from 10,000 kg of raw kitchen waste.

These rooftop organic farms shall not only grow fresh and safe organic vegetables (using a fraction of the water as compared to conventional agriculture) but they shall also create a natural green cover on large buildings who guzzle electricity (for cooling). Besides offering a natural green cover to product the rooftop from direct exposure to the sweltering sun, the vegetable plants will also do photosynthesis and thus sequester many metric tonnes of CO2. Thus, rooftop organic farms will also act as Carbon Sequestration Sinks. A rooftop organic farm of 1000 sqr ft can sequester 3-5 metric tonnes of CO2 in a year.
Since the rooftop organic farms are acting as CO2 sequestration sinks, they shall also generate carbon credits. Thus the large empty rooftops of buildings in any city can also be converted into CO2 sequestration sinks that will also generate carbon credits.

The rooftop organic farms shall also offer skill-development and employment-generation opportunities to hundreds of rural youth who migrate from villages into cities, for doing menial jobs. Their agricultural background can make them excellent rooftop organic farmers. Besides growing fresh vegetables on rooftops, these rooftop organic farmers will harvest and deliver fresh vegetables to premium clients (both retail and institutional clients), on a bicycle. Thus, we will have a fresh produce supply chain with zero carbon footprint!
Besides offering skill development and employment opportunities to unemployed rural youth, rooftop organic farms (with the financial support from government or NGOs) can also offer revenue generation opportunities for women of the weaker section of the society.

By creating such hyper-local fresh produce supply chains, we can save millions of rupees of the government which invests in creating controlled-temperature fresh produce supply chains. Besides guzzling huge investments of the government, these controlled-temperature fresh produce supply chains also guzzle a lot of energy. In comparison to such highly capital-intensive and energy-intensive fresh produce supply chains, the rooftop organic farms are highly capital and energy-efficient.

A city has 2 kinds of rooftops; individual rooftops of houses and large vacant rooftops of commercial buildings like schools, offices, hospitals, colleges, malls, etc.
If a city is able to convert the rooftops of 500 commercial buildings (every 1000 sqr ft) and 1000 individual houses (every 300 sqr ft), its impact shall be as follows:

• Total cultivable area = 20 acres
• Annual production of fresh organic vegetables = 1500 metric tonnes
• Annual number of families that can receive fresh vegetables = 5000-6000 families
• Annual saving of electricity (cooling of buildings) = Rs. 25 crores
• Annual saving of fuel (due to zero food miles) = Rs. 50 lakhs
• Annual saving of water (by using drip system on rooftops) = 750 lakhs litres
• Annual creation of jobs = 5000 jobs
• Annual sequestration of CO2 = 2000 metric tonnes. It is time to convert our rooftops into organic farms and brink the farm closer to the fork by developing rooftop organic farms.


*Author is Founder & CEO at Living Greens Organics Pvt Ltd