Letcetra uses Hydroponics - a system of agriculture that utilizes nutrient-rich water rather than soil for plant nourishment - to grow pesticide free vegetables. Using this technology the company wishes to target SDG 2: Zero Hunger, SDG 3: Good health and well-being and SDG 12: Sustainable Consumption And Production by adopting a sustainable method of agriculture to provide cheap and nutrient rich food to the masses.
Goa Institute of Management
To boost the use of latest technology in agriculture sector Mr. Ajay analyzed various research techniques related to farming on the internet. He gradually realized that the typical procedure to grow crops in soil involves various danger and the primary reason for it was the use of pesticides. Deep exploration on this topic finally paid off when he came across a technique called “Hydroponics”. In this method there is no use of soil and crops are grown in controlled environment free from pesticides. Although it is not a new technology and has been extensively used for over 25 years now in lots of countries, it was never used before in India.
Many outdoor farms exist in India but Lecetra was the first agri-tech company to start indoor commercial hydroponics farm. It was designed in such a way that it could accommodate crops equal to 3-4 acres of terrestrial land. It was a huge success and productivity increased extensively. Even it became possible to grow quality crops without the use of pesticides throughout the year which was earlier possible only in winters. Apart from indoor farms, Letcetra also expanded its horizon to greenhouse based farms to make optimum utilization of natural resources. Sunlight and other circulation methods were used in an efficient manner to save energy costs. They are currently working on digital platforms to adapt modern agriculture. The methods and process used by Letcetra are in line with Good Health Sustainable Development goals of UN ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being at all ages.
Ajay, in his own words, describes himself, as a ‘Foodie’ and it is this love for food that motivated him to start up his own company.
Over the years, he sensed that the quality in the restaurant food (and even home-cooked food for that matter) was slowly degrading. There was no longer a freshness in the vegetables and a general lack of flavor. Upon probing, he realized that the problem lay not in the kitchen or intermediaries but at the source: the farms. The state of farming was in shambles. Fertilizers were overused and the use of pesticides and chemical additives were rampant in the industry. This left the vegetables bland and the soil lifeless.
That is when his years of experience in IT kicked in and inspired him to come up with a solution wherein he could bring together Agriculture and Technology. He especially wanted to focus on developing a method of farming that would require a smaller area than traditional farms, reduced the usage of water, employed a technology that would negate the need for pesticides, and would be cost effective for both the producer and consumer in the end. That is when he chanced upon Hydroponics during his research into sustainable methods of farming. A method that provided solutions to all his questions.
Letcetra introduced the first indoor hydroponics farm in India. Letcetra started with a small 150 square meter farm. Now they have grown to a 3000 square meter farm. Letcetra created a much needed push in the agri tech industry. Now many people in the last 2 years have gotten into farming. Before 2016, innovation was negligible in the agri tech sector in India, but now the scenario has changed. Agritech boom has been created. To quote Mr. Ajay's words “ Letcetra has created a snowball which will turn into an avalanche“. People are now focusing on a once neglected industry.
At present Letcetra sells vegetables at a rate slightly higher than the current market rate, but as production costs decrease, the prices will normalize. The company is also getting ready to launch small home models of hydroponics. The long-term goal is to introduce community farming in residential communities in Goa. Letcetra is also planning to collaborate with the government to make Goa self-sustaining. Letcetra is also on its way to expand into cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad etc.
The overall impact of the innovation is that the people get food free from pesticides and chemicals at a cheaper rate, eliminating the ill-effects of these chemicals on the environment. It also created job opportunities for the farmers. As this innovation doesn’t need soil, the pathogens which contaminate food through soil will also be eliminated.
Short-term effects of this innovation are to improve the quality of the vegetables and fruits in the market so that nutrition value of the food increases, to reduce land area consumption, to minimize the use of natural resources and providing food at a lower cost. Their website says that they have grown many day-to-day vegetables and are successful in providing them at a cheaper rate.
The long-term effects are that the innovation created job opportunities for farmers. This addresses the problem of zero hunger because farmers receive a good amount of money that is invested by professionals and it can be used to feed their families better quality food.
The innovation creates a modern day farm where investors and food professionals invest their money and grow food that addresses an increasing demand for natural foods.
The main benefit the society will receive is that we will move closer to SDG 2: Zero hunger and SDG 3: Good health and well-being. Through this innovation in Letcetra both the user of the vegetables and the environment will be exposed to lesser amount of pesticides and chemicals. Pesticides and chemicals sprayed on plants contaminate the soil, water supply, and air. Through their new method of farming, Letcetra works to completely eliminate this problems. By providing pesticide free vegetables and by not using substances that will harm the environment, the company is helping to achieve the goal 3.
The quality of food produced through hydroponics is better compared to the conventional method which uses chemicals so the vegetables will be more nutritious. This will help in reducing malnutrition and in providing quality food to the society which is a part of SDG 2. Another advantage of hydroponic farming is that it uses less amounts of water. The water used for irrigation can be reused by collecting the excess. In the end, plants grown hydroponically use only 10 percent of the water that plants grown in fields use. Hydroponic farming used by Letcetra will allow them to grow vegetables throughout the year and this will reduce the shortage of natural foods, giving the society access to good quality food anytime.
Ajay Naik, CEO
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Mapusa, Goa, IN
Business Website: http://www.letcetraagritech.com/
Year Founded: 2016
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Letcetra is an Agritech startup based in Goa, India, which is involved in producing cheap and pesticide free vegetables using Hydroponics. Letcetra was the first company to introduce Hydroponics in India when it was set up in 2016.