Vicious to virtuous: A transformative approach to food and water security

Can the breakthrough crop trial results achieved in the small farms in India hold the key to feeding our world?


A Staff Reporter

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Mon 14 Mar 2022, 6:55 PM

“Do you see these results? They are amazing!" says the farmer.

He is indicating towards two close-by bunches of grapes, evidently heavy with the crop. Yogesh is a grape producer in Nashik-Maharashtra, which is also called the “grape capital of India". He was part of a group of farmers who agreed to try a new type of all-natural biostimulant on their crops. What makes the results noteworthy is that this abundant grape crop was achieved without the use of any chemical-based inputs.

This grape farm trial was run back in 2021, fast forward to 2022 and Farmics™ biostimulants have been successfully running trials with Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs), spread across India.

“It is time we move from a vicious cycle of waste and degradation to a virtuous cycle of sustainability and circularity," says Satyam Khagen Bose, the founder and chairman of Virenxia – a sustainability solutions company headquartered in Dubai – UAE, and the parent company behind the Farmics brand.

After serving 11 years, Bose retired as an Indian Navy Veteran and a highly decorated naval aviator. More than two decades later and after a series of entrepreneurial projects, he set up Virenxia in 2016 to focus on the socio-economic empowerment of rural India.

All this while, he spent resources and efforts co-developing proprietary technologies to make his vision to transform India’s rural economy a reality. Virenxia concentrates on four strategic areas of intervention which are Bio-Organic and Regenerative Agriculture, AgTech, FinTech, and Smart and Green Infrastructure.

They give farmers (regardless of landholding size) equal access to the highest grade of BioAg products, Digital Technologies, and several advanced tools to help farmers rise from mere sustenance farming to profit and prosperity.

A systemic, holistic and sustainable approach to rural development

Despite being called the breadbasket of the world, India’s agricultural regions are suffering today, due to mismanagement of natural resources and migration of youth to urban areas. This has left large swaths of farmlands fallow while causing overcrowding in India’s urban centres.

“If we want to stimulate growth in rural sectors and achieve true financial inclusion for the farmer, then we cannot bank on one-off disruptive ideas," says Bose. “At Virenxia, we believe the solution has to be multi-pronged and systemic. Because the state of agriculture in developing nations is not because of one or two factors, but due to multiple factors, and the only way you can address those problems is by collaborating with other on-ground groups, policymakers, and next-gen technologists.”

This ‘collaborative action’ is seen in effect with Virenxia’s recent investments (under the FinRural™ banner) in a FinTech startup, with whom they have jointly introduced a closed-loop digital financing system for farmers.

All the agricultural and technology solutions offered by Virenxia are aimed towards developing and revitalizing India’s rural economy and creating Virenxia’s framework for ‘Climate Smart Sustainable Agriculture’ (CSSA).

Painless transition to chemical-free farming

The switch from chemical to organic farming is not an easy one. To prepare, the land needs to be left fallow for seasons thus adding to lost revenue. And even after that, once the land is farmed using organic agriculture methods, it does not yield the same quantity and quality of produce. This is one of the key barriers organic advocates have to overcome when trying to convince farmers to make the switch.

Ecocert-certified Farmics organic biostimulants, on the other hand, have been able to reduce the requirement for chemical agricultural inputs by up to 50 per cent, thus lowering the cost per crop cycle, and improving germination, plant immunity, nutrition, and yield for farmers from the first application itself.

In addition, these products bolster the plant with increased resilience to abiotic and biotic stresses making them more resistant to adverse climate effects and more. The implications of this when multiplied by millions of farmers are truly transformative.

To further support all levels of farmers, the company also launched the worlds’ first instant soil and water testing system. Called AgriTMS, this testing, and monitoring system consists of powerful portable IoT sensor kits which give instant, accurate and affordable soil and water data readings to the farmer. AgriTMS is compatible with smart devices and stores past readings for trend analysis.

All these technologies are built to achieve true transformation, to usher in a new kind of sustainable revolution - one which is kinder to Mother Earth, our fragile ecosystem, and more rewarding to farmers.

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