Simply Fresh was founded in 2010 by two Indian software engineers, based in Australia, Sachin Darbarwar (CEO) and Shweta Darbarwar (CMO) who were studying the modern Agri tech, i.e., plant-profiling, and R&D.
A modern hydroponic farm, Simply Fresh uses global technology in farming based on European standards using precision farming techniques and AI technology in farming for growing, nourishing, picking and processing. In conversation with Express Food & Hospitality, Sachin highlights how the company focuses on modern-day precision farming techniques to harvest fresh produce sustainably
Though being an agrarian country, the highly unorganised farming industry in India has been rudimentary for long. How has it evolved over the years?
In the recent years there has been a lot of development in the agricultural sector in our country. The farming community has adopted to new advanced technological assisted farming techniques. With more awareness and knowledge, the predominantly unorganised agricultural sector is now turning towards modern ways of farming which helps it produce better quality of crops with high yield value.
In the recent past more and more new-age farming players have come up with solutions for the modern consumer’s needs, how did you eye the landscape of Indian farming like?
The modern consumer is always looking for better options and is very diligent about its eating habits. The consumers want to know more about what they are eating and where is it coming from. At Simply Fresh, we see this as an opportunity and with a motto of affordable food safety, Simply Fresh’s mission is to bring fresh, clean, traceable, and technologically assisted produce through sustainable farming, adhering to the best standards of food safety. Providing Nutra raw material, which is traceable, safe and with higher alkaloid levels to nutraceutical companies, we follow sustainable farming practices for growing all our produce.
What were the challenges and opportunities in bringing AI technology to farming?
With the introduction of AI in farming, we at Simply Fresh can do a lot of things which were not possible earlier, like Crop Profiling – analysing seeds for better germination, measuring nutrient requirement of plants; Automated AI-controlled greenhouses for better maintaining temperature inside.
Sustainable farming practices – In a country like India, where we have a scarcity of water especially for agricultural use, by using AI and hydroponic technology we are able to reduce our water consumption drastically by up to 1/10th of the traditional farming water consumption. With the help of AI and data analytics, we are able to better forecast yield from our farm and also demand from consumers. The only challenge we would say is the heavy cost involved with the introduction of AI technology in farming.
Being a supplier to many institutional businesses like Hotels, etc., how has the pandemic impacted the stored produce at Simply Fresh? What contingent measures are you taking for the upcoming season’s produce looking at the supply-demand instability?
The pandemic has affected our HoReCa and institutional business. We mitigated the situation by focusing on DTH (Direct to Home) sales by providing our fresh produce directly at many community/ RWAs. We also tied up with online e-marketplaces and aggregators to sell online. We are also tying up with local players in different cities who help us reach our consumers directly.
While the consumer sentiments of consumption are favouring vegetarianism and antioxidant foods, how are you at Simply Fresh analysing this demand and are planning to cater to the same?
With current situation around the globe, there has been a shift in consumer’s eating habits. The modern consumer is more aware of what food is good for them. Their focus in now on food items that are high in nutrition and safe to consume. We have seen an increase in consumption of leafy greens and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Simply Fresh produce is safe, high in nutritional value and antioxidants when compared to other fresh produce available in the market. We spread information about our product attributes to our consumers via our social media platforms, our product packaging and also through relevant recipe videos.
How are you tackling the woes of supply chain in India for your produce? Future roadmap for Simply Fresh?
The biggest task that we are facing right now is making sure our farms are operating at optimum capacity and that we meet the demands of the orders we are receiving from our clients. We are working closely with our clients, vendors, and logistic partners for a smooth operation. We have also started DTH (Direct to Home) sales via online platforms and aggregators.
With our new 150-acre farm ready near Siddipet, Hyderabad, we intend to spread our reach to more retail, corporates and HoReCa clients in various cities in India. We also grow a variety of Nutraceutical plants. We plan to expand more in the Nutraceutical segment and focus on exports as there is a huge demand around the globe for safe and traceable produce.