Delhi boy grows veggies sans soil, stumps speakers at TEDx 2016

Miss Alone

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It was over a dinner conversation that this young boy asked his father: “Why do we need soil?” The query arose in the young mind after experiencing rise in concern about shortage of food and space crunch in urban landscape. His question was pertinent and his impressions noteworthy. What he therefore turned to was Hydroponics – the process of growing plants without soil. But he improved on it, by creating a composition that was cheaper.
This made way for 17-year-old Shantanu Singhal to speak at TEDx Pasadena, California 2016 recently. “I started thinking about the possibilities of developing a technique to allow people to grow their own food and started Unnat – my entrepreneurial venture. At the TEDx talk when I spoke about growing vegetables without soil, the listeners were interested to know where they can buy the composition I have created. Their interest was due to the fact that what I have discovered is much cheaper than the techniques which have already been developed,” says Singhal.

Before started developing his composition, the lad researched well. “I had read about Aeroponics – a plant-cultivation technique using air; but realised that the method is expensive. I therefore created a composition (comprising micro-nutrients, seeds and bio-pesticides among others) which not just acts as a substitute for soil but also cheap to procure,” says Singhal who is a student of standard XI in Sanskriti School.
A student of humanities, he says his father who works in the field of biotechnology, guided him in his research and experimentation. “First I grew veggies like fenugreek, spinach, coriander and tomato at home. My father helped me in all this. I want everyone in the cities to be able to grow their own vegetables indoors,” he says.