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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Meet the friends who quit their jobs to invent solar-powered farming devices

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Minushri and Amrita, childhood friends, founded Think Raw Solutions Pvt. Ltd to create revolutionary solar-powered goods with Krishi Dhanu, Dhivara Mitra, and Matsya Bandhu, promising to assist farmers raise output by 30%.

Amrita Jagatdeo and Minushri Madhumita are childhood friends from Kalahandi, a western part of Odisha. Minushri did postgraduate studies in Chemistry and a diploma in Management after graduating high school, while Amrita became an electrical engineer with a postgraduate management degree in Finance.

After finishing their studies, they pursued various professional routes and worked in the IT sector in Delhi. She felt compelled to work for a good cause.

“I wanted to contribute to the advancement of society,” she explains.

As a result, in 2008, she founded the NGO Bihang to promote computer literacy in Odisha’s government schools.

However, she had no idea that her desire to help children would lead her to co-found a solar-powered technology firm with a childhood buddy, putting their combined abilities to use.

Minushri notes that in the late 2000s, the government began a program to establish computer laboratories in schools in order to make computer literacy a required course in the school curriculum.

“Computer education was ignored in government schools due to intermittent power supply in distant areas, which prevented youngsters from using computer laboratories.

Minushri then launched ‘Project Rainbow,’ a solar-powered computer lab in collaboration with Asian Paints.”

The project would ensure that the computer laboratories had continuous power supplies.

The plan was to build the required infrastructure and support the school instructors and administration for a year.

The firm from which we purchased the solar panels defrauded us by offering low-quality gadgets and supplies.

Rather than continue to look for excellent providers, they chose to develop their own gadgets in the future.

She resigned her work in 2015 and, like Minuhri, opted to devote her full time and attention to the cause.

Thus, in 2016, the duo founded Think Raw Pvt Ltd to incorporate solar power technology into the rural populace of their native Odisha. The firm was incubated at Bhubaneswar’s Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) and guided by Sri Sri University.

“We wanted to go beyond only aiding children and help the rural farmers and fisherman,” she explains.

Farmers, particularly in Kalahandi, experience extreme hardship, according to Amrita.

“We observed inadequacies at several levels, such as technology utilization, a lack of current, effective processes, and even water availability.”

Despite having access to sufficient water, some fishermen and farmers lack the resources to alleviate their miseries, limiting their capacity to improve crop quality and productivity,” she adds.

“We learnt about these shortcomings while working directly with farmer producer firms to provide them with solar-based agriculture solutions,” Amrita says. “To fill these gaps, three women, Krishi Dhanu, Dhivara Mitra, and Matsya Bandhu, devised three ideas to assist farmers at various phases of farming.”

The first, Krishi Dhanu, is a solar-powered fertiliser and pesticide distribution apparatus.

In India, women make up the majority of the agricultural labor force.

During the procedure, they frequently come into touch with hazardous substances.

“The irritation and unpleasant effect such chemicals create on the skins is readily disregarded,” she continues.

Many women suffer allergies or even long-term skin problems.

Furthermore, the hand dispensing method is not consistent, resulting in excess and unequal distribution across crops. “Amrita claims that their firm built an IoT (Internet of Things) gadget that can be carried as a backpack and utilizes a solar-powered rechargeable battery to spray chemical fertilisers to address the issue.

Unlike other machines on the market, which can only be used with liquid fertilizers, the Krishi Dhanu can also be used with solid fertilizers.

“It can also be used by pregnant ladies.

Farmers are already using the product in the field “She continues.

The Dhivara Mitra, created in collaboration with the Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture, is Minushri’s second creation (CIFA).

“Fishermen face new costs and hurdles as a result of fish farming technologies.

The lack of a continuous power source necessitates the use of diesel for aeration and maintaining dissolved oxygen levels. The usage of fossil fuel raises the prices, and if the water parameters do not remain at optimal levels, it leads to poor productivity and fish illnesses,” she explains.

The business has created a floating gadget equipped with sensors that analyzes water quality and activates the aeration process as needed.

“A 1.5 kW solar panel mounted on the floating contraption powers it.”

“It is designed to move about the water body and maintain the settings that are most suited for fish,” she explains, adding that the product’s prototype is ready and undergoing market feasibility validation.

By March 2022, the product will be available for purchase. Matsya Bandhu, a seed and fish feed distribution device, is Minushri’s third addition, also a solar-powered IoT invention.

“It might be considered an expansion of Dhivara Mitra.

The traditional approach is filling a gunny bag with seeds or feed and tying it with a bamboo stick.

The gadget can hold 30 kilograms of feed and floats around the body of water, dispersing it evenly “she claims

She claims that the IoT-enabled gadget also checks the pH levels of water.

“The gadget activates the basic and acidic salts put on it and releases them as needed to neutralize the pH value,” Minushri says. According to Minushri, the gadgets are self-automated and do not require the assistance of a laborer to manage or monitor their functions.

“Using it on a commercial scale can help decrease losses while increasing production by 30%,” she adds.

According to the entrepreneur, the prototypes of the aforementioned goods are ready for commercialization.

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