Now you can play FarmVille on real agricultural land

In 2009, a virtual farming game by the name of FarmVille took the Internet and, more specifically, Facebook by storm. Millions of users logged on to the social network day after day to sow seeds, water their crops and, eventually, harvest them.
Famville 2 farming game

Now, a Bangalore-based startup is looking to replicate the magic but, with a twist. Users of the Farmizen app, just like FarmVille, can grow vegetables on their plot and pluck them when they ripen. Except, this time around the veggies you grow are real.

Early in 2016, former Amazon executives Shameek Chakravarty and Sudaakeran Balasubramanian, and entrepreneur Gitanjanli Rajamani, together rented a plot in the periphery of Bangalore to grow chemical-free food. In just nine months, they achieved a level of output where they did not need to buy vegetables from outside.

By now, the trio had also realised that there was a market for people wanting to grow their own food. They collected data through surveys which only strengthened the hypothesis.

“Gitanjali, who runs an urban gardening startup, noticed that people did not trust the organic food in the market, and were trying to grow their own food in balconies. But the output was not enough,” Chakravarty said.

Thus, the three founded Farmizen Technologies Pvt. Ltd in January, 2017.

Paid subscribers can rent a mini-plot in a semi-urban farm, i.e., 15-20 km from the city. They can choose the vegetables they wish to grow on their plot. Users can keep tabs on what is happening on the farm, whether it’s their plants flowering or getting ready for harvest. Once harvested, they can either pick up the produce from the farm or get it home-delivered.

Users will have a selection of 40 vegetables to grow from, including brinjal, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, and kale. The list will keep changing according to the season. The app recommends crops that would suit the subscriber’s needs, a feature likely to come in handy for farming greenhorns.

The startup’s first farm, a 1.5-acre plot about 10 kilometres from Bangalore, started in June. It caters to as many as 79 subscribers, and has a waitlist of 320 people.

To obtain the necessary farmlands, the company enters into rent-share agreements with farmers. Farmers are also provided with agricultural equipment in exchange for a higher share of the revenue. Farmers then grow the vegetables as per subscribers’ requests.

Most farmers with small landholdings eke out an average profit of Rs 7,000-8,000 per acre per month. In the Farmizen model, farmers can earn three to five times that amount, Chakravarty claims.

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