Jindal was selected from a cast of thousands to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting in October, where he and his business partner, Accounting Ph.D. student Hariharan Iyer, will present their passion project to like-minded scholars, entrepreneurs, and emerging leaders.
The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), established in 2007 by President Clinton, brings together college students to discuss and address global challenges with practical, innovative solutions by making Commitments to Action. Through its annual meeting and ongoing programmatic support, CGI U supports students in their efforts to create action plans, build relationships, participate in hands-on workshops, and follow up as they complete their projects. The next CGI U meeting will take place Oct. 13–15, 2017 at Northeastern University in Boston.
We sat down with Jindal to discuss AgriTech and his tremendous achievement.
What inspired you to create AgriTech?
Metropolitan areas in developing economies face land shortage due to high population density. This results in low average land holding size, making traditional farming techniques unprofitable. Climate change, poor access to irrigation and quality seeds, and lack of access to organized credit and bank loans are the biggest challenges faced in farm mechanization and modernization. We believe everyone has the right to lead a dignified life and they just need an opportunity. So, to empower the farmers to tackle these circumstances and alleviate them out of poverty, we formed AgriTech. We plan to invest initial capital required to set up greenhouse vertical farms on farmers’ land, train them, and then transfer these farms to the farmers to operate so that they can reap the benefits of modern farming.
So, what exactly is vertical farming?
Vertical farming is growing food in vertically stacked trays in a very controlled environment (greenhouse) that increases farm productivity by 600 percent, lowering input costs by 40-60 percent by productive use of land, water, seeds, and other farm supplies. Thus, it can increase farmers’ profits by 700 percent from the same land area. It has the potential to solve food crises and farmer poverty in under-developed and developing economies.
What was involved in the submission process/proposal to the CGI U meeting?
Prospective CGI U applicants must develop a Commitment to Action: a new, specific, and measurable plan to address a challenge in one of CGI U’s five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Peace and Human Rights, Poverty Alleviation, and Public Health.
We submitted AgriTech for its alignment to the Foundation’s poverty alleviation efforts. In doing so, we proposed realistic goals for the next three years with a concrete and clear action plan to meet them. The plan included a location where we would start, target population, required resources, action plan, required team, and success metrics.
In addition to attending, will you promote AgriTech?
Yes! We will have an opportunity to present our ideas to the attendees and network with peer groups, NGOs, and industry leaders in our field, as well as with corporate sponsors and venture capitalists to secure seed funding for the start-up. We have already been assigned a mentor, a Kenyan national, who is running her own agriculture startup after getting funding from the Clinton Foundation.
Along with other renowned speakers, Bill and Chelsea Clinton will also be speaking on site.