ViviGro is a leader in soil health and restoration. We customize eco-friendly, biodegradable fertilizer blends suitable for reducing emissions, improving production, and practicing sustainable farming.
Our mission is to support farmers in accelerating their transition to sustainable farming practices to improve soil health and food quality. We value producing high-quality, natural-based fertilizers that are free of fillers and completely customizable. We aim to provide solutions that realign soil health and are capable of producing the highest grade of food and minimizing dependence on synthetic inputs.
Tell us about yourself?
From the age of 16, I worked on my family farm in Pakistan, raising crops and processing dairy products. This period was when I first got hands-on experience in sustainable farming practices.
Later, I went on to graduate in Economics and Anthropology at the University of Karachi in Pakistan. I moved to the U.S. to study BBA in Entrepreneurship and Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. After graduation, I moved back to Pakistan from the U.S. and started working with Exxon Chemical in sales and business development, later leading their sales and supply chain functions. During my time there, I started six warehouses in my region, scaled their market share from two per cent to 44 per cent, and I received six consecutive presidential excellence awards at Exxon.
In 2002, I moved to Canada and started working with a fertilizer company. Additionally, I purchased a hobby farm in Chilliwack, BC, where I continued pursuing my passion for sustainable farming practices.
In 2006, I decided to pursue my dream of starting my own company in sustainable and organic fertilizers. I founded a company which specialized in sustainable and organic fertilizers, focusing on the horticulture market of berries and vegetables from British Columbia. In 2018, I moved out of this venture and founded ViviGro Sustainable Solutions to cater more towards crops in the prairie provinces. ViviGro was established to help farmers achieve environmental sustainability in their farming practices while improving their profitability and the quality of their output. My goal is to improve human and animal health by improving food quality and soil health with our products.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
I would have told myself earlier to put an in-house lab for confirming the soil analysis results we get from outside labs. This would have given us the opportunity to give more credible answers and complete information. Often, sometimes what happens is many of the lab tests miss out on testing critical variables, then farmers would ask for it, meaning we would give incomplete results.
What problem does your business solve?
We identify limiting factors and hurdles to production, as well as strengths in the soil, in a way that no other company is currently doing. We then focus on those strengths and limiting factors to create a customized package for our clients to amend their soil issues.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
The inspiration behind my business is the way I grew up. I grew up in a very poor village in a remote area of Pakistan where there were no public services available. I practically grew up with the native people, learning from them about sustainability and survival. That led me to develop a very, very deep appreciation for nature. So, my inspiration for nature leads me to work to protect it at any level and any scale I can.
What is your magic sauce?
We use ingredients which are unique because most of them are made from processing waste, and they are either organic or organic-based in nature. We do use a few synthetic commodities. However, our growing model is based on the concept of utilizing processed waste material. The reason I use the word “processed” is because some waste material does not have the ability to contribute to the crop life in the same year. But by processing it, we ensure its availability. We are promoting a concept that respects the earth and has its ability to regenerate farming by the heavy use of organics.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
We want to scale the company to a point where we can cater to at least four to five million acres in Canada and add five to six more service centers in addition to the six centers we already have. We would also like to cut back pesticide consumption on our farms by another 30 to 40 per cent compared to the current levels, which are already about 40 per cent less than conventional programs.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The biggest challenge for me is fighting the farmer’s mindset that unless they don’t use a certain quantity of chemical fertilizer and they don’t use preventative pesticides, that they are potentially going to lose the harvest. This is a major obstacle because it is ingrained in their minds that preventive pesticide use and high-input fertilizer systems are something that’s unavoidable or a necessity for optimal yields, but we prove that wrong all the time.
How can people get involved?
People can stay connected by following us on social media, visiting our website, or signing up for our mailing list. We have a public Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. If you have an interest, I have a new Twitter account where I will be sharing my personal experiences and tips. Feel free to also stop by the office in Saskatoon anytime.
Address: 3030 Louise St, Saskatoon SK S7J 3L8