A glimpse of rural innovation, Gastbeitrag Jubin Mehta

Gastbeitrag von Jubin Mehta, Blogger und Journalist (aus meinem Buch Indovation: Produkte für den indischen Markt erfolgreich entwickeln und verkaufen)

India is a case study in diversity. From religion to habits to economic standing, there is massive diversity. And talking about this range, even the problems that India faces are mind numbingly different. Focusing on one such area, rural population still makes up for about 70% of the entire population and is a demography, which if infused with finance coupled with innovation can yield rich dividends.

Entrepreneurship is just growing in India and rural India is a humongous opportunity to leverage. Innovation will be the key and the use of technology will be of paramount importance. The share of agriculture in real GDP has fallen from 30% in 1990-91 to 14.5% in 2011-12, while the number of people dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods has not come down proportionately which reflects on the productivity. Just to give an instance, China’s fields give six tons of rice a hectare, while Indian fields yield just two tons. In a nation where close to 60% of the produce rots, using innovative technologies to do more with less can is the need of the hour.
There are challenges but against every challenge, there is a shimmering innovation. Here, we look at some of the marvels of rural innovation in India that have emerged over the years:

Mr. Uddhab Bharali, who was recently nominated for the NASA Technology award has 98 innovations to his name. The innovation nominated for the award is a tea plant small enough to be set up in a 2 sqm space. His tea plant follows all established procedures of massive tea producing machines and can produce up to 100 kg of tea per day with a power intake of only 2 KW! Close to 20 of his innovations in agriculture have been commercialized.

Another sparkling example of an innovation is Nano Ganesh, a mobile installation by Ossian that allows farmers to switch on and switch off their motors remotely. They avoid almost 7kms journey every day travelling to the fields to switch on and switch off the water supply to the fields
. Up till date, Nano Ganesh has been installed in 15,000+ fields across in five states in India – Maharashtra, AP, MP, Punjab and Rajasthan and Gujarat as one belt apart from the installations in Egypt, Tanzania, Australia and Bhutan.

Digital Green is an NGO founded by 30 year old Rikin Gandhi who aims to raise the livelihoods of smallholder farmers across the developing world through the targeted production and dissemination of agricultural information via participatory video and mediated instruction through grassroots-level partnerships. For instance, consider a village where a group of farmers gather in a courtyard and discuss worm composting after watching a video of the process. Since the video features a fellow villager, who has shot it, the farmers are able to connect with the message. Digital Green monitors the quality and usefulness of the video.

More recently, Green Grameen is an effort by a young duo to come up with an affordable smokeless Chulha (traditional stove). 70% of India still cooks on firewood, animal dung & crop residues and globally, about 3 billion people cook on chulhas/indoor open fires. With 85% less smoke, this patent pending design innovation that uses no moving parts and few materials to deliver fuel savings up to 65%, minimizes harmful emissions of CO, CO2 and particulate matter and delivers convenient cooking without any requirement of fuel processing or change in cooking habits thus solving the health, environment and fuel collection effort required for operating traditional stoves.

Uttar Pradesh in India is a state with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in India. An Asha workers (nurse) job requires her to travel to villages to counsel pregnant women in each of these villages about the necessary health measures to be taken during pregnancy. But via startup Dimagi, the only thing that Suman carries to help her do her work is a mobile phone. Her mobile phone unlike others has a CommCare (mobile-cloud based) platform installation as an aid to help her educate pregnant women. This platform is image heavy and provides questions as voice cues to the pregnant women. They in turn answer those questions, which are then recorded in the same device. This information is later fed into the computer to collate the data on all the pregnant women in every village with specific details regarding each pregnant woman. This data further helps them to provide necessary health care to the pregnant women. Coming to India in 2012, Dimagi operates its CommCare platform with 15 different partners in 9 states across India.

These and many more such innovations have made life in rural India better by providing ingenious solutions. Through all these innovations, millions of lives have been touched but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Rural India is so massive in scope that many such initiatives are required and help in all forms would go a long way in improving the situation and taking India towards being a developed country.

Von Jubin Mehta: Editor and blogger about technology and start-ups
Jubin Mehta writes and curates content for Yourstory.in, India’s No.1 online platform for startups and entrepreneurs. Yourstory.in was founded by Shradha Sharma in 2008, since then the team has covered more than 6,000 innovative entrepreneurs across various sectors throughout India. Jubin is an engineer by degree but a writer by heart and is passionate about entrepreneurship.

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