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Kathmandu: "Hybrid farm model ideal for low-income regions"

“Since Nepal’s economy is weak and the per capita income is very low, we came up with an improvised low-cost, locally designed and built greenhouse with a vertical hydroponic system that allows us to grow six times more and use 90% less water,” says Kushal Gurung, Founder, and CEO of Mutha Agro Pvt Ltd.

Kushal Gurung pictured in the Kathmandu farm

Due to Nepal’s reliance on traditional rainfed agriculture and the threat to the consistency of this water supply due to climate change, Kushal felt that it was time to begin rewriting the story of Nepalese agriculture, this time with hydroponic vertical farming as a climate-smart agricultural tool.

The farm is covered with a net that keeps out most of the insects

Agro Pvt Ltd operates a 1.500 square meter farm with a greenhouse of 300 square meters, which was opened in March 2023. The farm currently grows green and red lettuce, iceberg lettuce, kale, arugula (rocket), Swiss chard, chives, basil, and celery. These are grown year-round without pesticides, with 600 kg produced every month.

“We don’t use HVAC or control our environment, so we need to grow crops that can handle this climate. In Kathmandu, where we are located, we have a temperate climate with the average temperature ranging between 20-25°C. Leafy greens do well in this climate,” says Kushal.

A peek inside the farm

Potential for medicinals and fodder
While the focus is currently on leafy greens, Kushal explains that the farm has big ideas to explore, such as the production of fodders for livestock and the establishment of hydroponic nurseries specifically for threatened species such as Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs).

The company has been reaching out to governmental and non-governmental organizations to try rolling out hydroponics as a climate-smart agricultural solution for rural communities in Nepal.

Packed produce in stores

“This is the best-fit model for Nepal, given our economic status and our vulnerability to climate change. It is relatively low-cost and low-tech, hence affordable with a better return on investment,” explains Kushal.

For more information:
Mutha Agro Pvt Ltd
Kushal Gurung, Founder and CEO
[email protected]