Indian greenhouse project takes shape

Dutch Greenhouse Delta and Sahyadri Farms work together to improve soft fruit production in India

Tuesday 12th April 2022

Dutch Greenhouse Delta (DGD) and Sahyadri Farms have signed a letter of intent to start working on the “cleaner, healthier, safer and higher quality” production of fresh produce in India.

The pair have begun work on a greenhouse project, which is set to result in the construction of a high-tech facility in the state of Maharashtra.

“Together, we intend to do research on customer wishes and future trends,” said Azhar Tambuwala, director of marketing at Sahyadri Farms. “We also want to talk to large retail chains, large hotel chains, large restaurant chains and large government-run organisations – like universities and the army – to find out what is the best crop, the most profitable crop and the most wanted crop that can be grown in greenhouses in a way that is more beneficial than open-field farming.”

Turning ideas into actions, Sahyadri and DGD are currently undertaking a feasibility study to determine the best greenhouse solution to optimise profitability, sustainability, food safety, quality and logistics. “This feasibility study will shed light on commercial and technical feasibility and viability,” Tambuwala said. “The intent is to write a more compact and minimal feasibility report to venture into the next stage.”

Once the feasibility report is complete, Sahyadri and DGD will canvas investors, growers and any other stakeholders deemed necessary. “The feasibility study will provide the information to inform, attract and persuade new partners, if needed, to start developing a greenhouse solution befitting the future ambitions of Sahyadri Farms,” Tambuwala added.

“The final stage will be designing, building and operating the greenhouse in order to provide Sahyadri Farms with sustainable, high-quality produce to be sold. It will strengthen the commercial position of Sahyadri Farms and our farmers.”

Soft fruits, including a range of berry varieties, will be a key focus of the feasibility study.

Soft fruit cultivation

According to a statement from DGD, the outcome will benefit both Indian consumers and growers. “DGD and Sahyadri Farms have decided to start investigating if locally grown fresh fruit is feasible. If so, together we will start providing locally grown, more sustainable, safer, cleaner, healthier soft fruits at a higher quality than imported, expensive soft fruits,” the statement said. “This will provide local jobs, local income and strengthen the local economy. Sahyadri Farms and DGD both aim to change the way soft fruits are made available to consumers in India.”

DGD markets Dutch greenhouse horticulture technology worldwide. It offers its clients “the entire horticultural eco-system”, consisting of science, enterprise, education and government. Desh Ramnath, director of business development at DGD, is confident there are more resource-efficient ways of producing soft fruits in India than current broadacre operations. “We believe Dutch technology can be a partial answer,” Ramnath explained. “With a higher yield per square metre, 96 per cent less water usage per product and no chemical pesticides, Dutch technology will lower the demand for land for production; resulting in less deforestation, improved water management and maintaining biodiversity.

“We need to show Indian investors, retailers and consumers that our tech will work in India. That is what this whole partnership with Sahyadri Farms is about; showcasing Dutch technology and knowledge in a way that leads up to a commercially viable solution that creates profits for the farmer and retailer, while having a positive impact on the food production system, local climate, fresh water management and the level of pollution.”