The biggest challenge for farmers is to keep their produce safe. Especially green vegetables and fruits. They spoil very quickly. Most farmers do not have a place to store their products safely. Because of this, they have to sell their products at throwaway prices. To overcome this problem, Vikas Jha, who lives in the Madhubani district of Bihar, has taken an initiative. He, along with his friends, has designed a vegetable cooler machine that can preserve green vegetables and fruits for seven days a week without electricity and fuel. The farmers are getting a lot of benefit from this. For the last two years, Vikas has been marketing it across the country. At present, the turnover of his company is Rs 2 crore.
Masters’ degree from IIT Mumbai
Vikas Jha belongs to a farmer family. His early education took place in the village itself. After this, he studied Agriculture Engineering and then in 2016 got his Masters’s degree from IIT Mumbai. Vikas tells that the economic condition of the house was not good. There was some land on which the father used to cultivate, but it did not support the family’s expenses. For my studies, my brother had to go out for a job only after 12th. Since then I had decided that in the future I would do something for the farmers so that their life would be better. That’s why I chose agriculture subject for engineering.
An irrigation machine without electricity
Vikas says that while studying at IIT, I started working on innovative projects related to agriculture. My professor Satish Agnihotri used to guide me, he had a lot of experience in the field of technology. We used to meet farmers by going to different states. He understood their problems. During this, we came to understand one thing that farmers are getting more cost for farming while profits are decreasing. Most of their money is being spent on irrigation and fertilizers.
To overcome this problem, we developed a treadle pump in 2016. This pump runs without electricity and fuel. By running it with the help of feet, the farmer can arrange water from the pond or well to irrigate his crop. For this, we got funds from IIT.
After preparing this machine and distributing it among the farmers, a new problem came in front of us. When we visited the villages, we came to know that irrigation has been done for the farmers, but their products are being destroyed by wild animals. This is causing a lot of damage to them. To overcome this problem, we started planning and soon developed a peak protector machine. It runs with the help of solar and emits different types of sound, due to which animals do not come to the farm. We also got a very good response from the farmers for this machine. Our products are sold in many states.
A problem of storage
Vikas tells that we have arranged treadle pump and peak protector for the farmers, their production also increased, but their income did not increase as much as we were thinking. The biggest reason behind this was that they had to sell their product at a low price due to the lack of the right rate in the market. This was a big problem for the farmers. Especially for those farmers who used to cultivate fruits and vegetables. Due to lack of storage facilities, their products were getting spoiled soon. Therefore, instead of bringing their products back home from the market, the farmers used to sell them at low prices.
To overcome this problem, we did a lot of research and study. Then we had a decent budget. We also got a fund of Rs 7 lakh from IIT Mumbai. After this, we prepared a vegetable cooler machine in the year 2019. This machine works without electricity and fuel and preserves vegetables for 6 to 7 days and fruits for about 10 days. To run it, only 20 liters of water is needed in 24 hours. It can hold 100 kg of product at a time. Its cost is around 50 thousand rupees.
Startup launched in the year 2019, marketing across the country
Vikas says that the farmers were very happy after preparing this product. Wherever we went, our products were in high demand. After this, we started our startup named RuKart in 2019. After that, we focused on its marketing. We went to different states and informed the farmers about our product and told them its importance. Gradually our product became popular among the farmers and its demand increased.
Then we started having our dealers in different states. Who take our products to the farmers. Along with this, at the online level, we do marketing through our website and social media. For this, we have tied up with many courier companies. Those who deliver the machine to the farmers anywhere in the country within 10-15 days. Till now we have installed more than 300 vegetable cooler machines across the country. Similarly, we have marketed more than a thousand peak protector machines. At present, 35 to 40 people work in the core team with development. While more than 300 people are associated with employment through his company. It also includes more than 100 women.
How does this machine work?
Rishabh, who is working in the core team of development, says that at present we have two types of machines. The first machine is based on the cemented model while the second machine is built on the plug and play model. To install the cemented model, we choose a place that is well ventilated and where there is no sunlight. For this, we prepare a cement wall in a square shape. Inside which insulator material and nitrogen ball are installed. Inside it, space is made all around for water. While the cement wall is not required for the second machine, it is already fully prepared. It can be carried easily from one place to another.
Regarding the process of working, they say that first the vegetables are kept inside the box. After that water is filled in it. This cooler works on evaporation technology. It prevents the outside heat from coming in and transmits the heat of the vegetable inside out. Due to which the required temperature of the vegetable is maintained. This process consumes 20 liters of water every day.
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