Vibez Estates enables urban folks to invest and earn from agriculture farmlands without managing it
According to the World Bank Indicators, 60.43 percent of the land in India was categorised as agricultural land in 2018. In fact, at 157.35 million hectares, India stands next to only the United States when it comes to land area dedicated to agriculture, as per the Indian Brand Equity Foundation.
While historically, agricultural land has been owned and maintained by large and small scale farmers, over the last few decades there has been an increased interest in buying land for farming from urban communities as well. From an investment perspective, investing in farmlands also ensures inherent tax benefits. As per the provisions of Section 10 (1) of the Income Tax Act, agricultural income is not taxable. However, the challenge of maintaining farmlands and lack of expertise has been a key deterrent for many urban dwellers when it comes to farming.
Making investing in agriculture practical and possible
Agritech and management solution providers are exploring use cases to bridge the gap by leveraging technology. For instance, Bengaluru-based Vibez Agro Tech Solutions Private Limited — a sister concern of the established agro realty firm— specialises in long-term management of various agricultural set-ups - from farmlands, horticulture to fruit-yielding crops, etc on arable lands.
Vibez Agro Tech Solutions manages all agricultural holdings of Vibez gated farming communities across Karnataka. Farm owners in these communities are offered two options - annual tax-free returns on pomegranate plantation or long-term returns on teak plantation. This ensures that the land owners do not have to worry about investing in fixed assets like quarters for labourers, godowns, borewells and security or worry about day-to-day management of the farms. Today, the firm manages 180+ acres of farmlands across the Vibez Estates’ many agro realty gated farm community projects such as Vibez Pomegranate plantation farms at Chikballapur, Sirivana - teak Plantation farms at Chikkaballapur and Channapatna, Anantara - a farmhouse project in the midst of a coffee estates at Sakleshpur, among others.
Nurturing growth in new directions
While Vibez Agro Tech Solutions was founded and led by a former banking professional, Ashwin Kumar, the firm recently onboarded Shashi Mohan, a serial entrepreneur as its Director. Shashi is the Founding Partner of Jeevan Hospital, a multi-specialty hospital in Chikkaballapur. He is also the CEO and Founder of Satva Health Solutions, a pharmaceutical waste management company. At Satva, Shashi was instrumental in establishing R&D centres that specialise in the systemic collection of pharmaceutical waste. The centres segregated micronutrients from the waste and recycled it into a consortium of bio-nutritional fertilisers for agricultural purposes. The opportunity to join Vibez Agro Tech Solutions came at a time when Shashi was looking to support sustainable entrepreneurial ventures.
Coming from a strong agricultural background and expertise in R&D and innovation, Shashi will lead the adoption of tech-led innovations at Vibez Agro Tech Solutions. While the firm is already leveraging a mobile enterprise resource planning app to monitor daily activities at the farm and provide near-real time updates to customers on their app, there is a larger opportunity to further leverage technology and agricultural best practices to enable farm owners to gain optimal returns from their investments.
Shashi says these initiatives will be customised as per local, inter-state and international demands and will be executed only with the help of local farming communities, wherein Vibez Agro Tech Solutions Private Limited will equip them with the requisite skills and resources.
The firm is working towards the establishment of R&D centres to monitor soil health, bio-formulation production units, in-house vermiculture and vermicompost projects for boosting soil health and pisciculture within the plantation’s premises, among others.
Ashwin says the team is busy working on the project and the facilities are expected to be rolled out in 2022. In addition, the company also plans to start food processing units for value addition and partner with national and international agricultural universities and state departments of agriculture, horticulture and forestry for expert consults.
Bridging the urban-rural divide in agriculture
“We want to make agriculture sustainable for urban communities in a way that it bridges the urban-rural divide and addresses the constraints that are traditionally associated with fragmented land holdings,” says Shashi. It is here that agri tourism becomes relevant, believe Ashwin and Shashi. The duo also advocates adoption of biotechnological advances to address the challenges in crop cultivation. “For instance, advances in tissue culture can address the challenges of poor quality saplings. At the same time, it can also open a gateway to attract rural youth towards scientific agriculture,” they say.
“We are working towards realising a unique agricultural vision that aims to alleviate some of the traditional setbacks that hamper the agricultural sector’s growth and move towards a more sustainable path. And, one of the ways to do that is to integrate technology and scientific innovations in agriculture and let urban and rural communities leverage them in agriculture. It is here that businesses like Vibez Agro Tech Solutions and Vibez Estates can drive impact beyond just enabling urban folks to see agriculture as a viable investment or passion projects.”
Ashwin believes that as agriculture continues to play an important role in the country’s economic growth, it will be all the more important to explore new business models that could complement the country’s dependence on the sector. “Nearly, 60 percent of India’s 1.39 billion-strong population relies on agriculture for a livelihood and contributes around 20 percent to the country’s national income. In addition, India’s potential in the agricultural sector is poised to grow even further due to the tremendous value addition towards indigenous and global food industries. And, we want to capitalise on the promise that his sector holds,” he says.
For more information, contact www.vibezestates.com / 8152883388