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IITians Develop Tech for Small Scale Farmers

If you ate today, thank a farmer. December 23 is observed as National Farmers’ Day aka Kisan Diwas across India. Have you ever wondered, how many farmers would like to have their children follow in their footsteps? This is worrisome because we are losing out on the people who have our back when we get home after a hard day’s work.
Reaching out to our farmers and aiding them to connect directly to the market is an effective way to ensure that they get the returns they deserve. With farmer suicide still on the rise, we need to turn our focus on the rural areas.

Farmers earn a pittance

Did you know that India is the second largest agri-producer in the world, yet wastes as much food as the UK consumes? Think about how difficult it must for our farmers to work in this scorching heat and not get paid in full for their hard work. A team at The Indian Institute of Technology – Madras has invented tech to bridge this gap.
Ph.D. students Soumalya Mukherjee, Rajanikant Rai, and Shiv Sharma are on a mission to enable and democratize cold storage logistics. Pivoting from the conventional way of transporting perishables (via refrigerated trucks), they are trying to provide freedom to our farmers to transport their products by any means of transportation, without compromising on the quality.
Their award-winning innovation is called Tan90. It is a portable solar-powered cold storage device with a 500 kg capacity for storing vegetables, fruits and other farm produce. The device will help farmers store their produce for sufficient time so that it does not get spoilt before it is sold, thereby preventing food wastage of agricultural produce.

Story behind Tan90

Starting off with a desire to provide potable water to the dry patches in the rural areas, they got to know a darker truth that our farmers have to face. There is a huge difference between what they get for their produce and the price we pay at any retail store (approximately 2.5x up). Not being able to leverage on the cold storage chain of our country is one of the reasons our farmers cannot hold on to their produce for the correct time. This gap in the cold chain forms an obstacle to our mission for doubling farmers’ income by the year 2022.
Tan90 scales down the concept of refrigerated trucks to small boxes that can hold the temperature inside for 10 hours. Why a box? Because, now, you can carry them at the back of your cycle, or any two-wheeler. No wonder it is winning accolades before Kisan Diwas.
The start-up is among the winning start-ups of the second edition of Social Alpha Energy Challenge 2.0 presented by Social Alpha and Tata Trusts. Tan90 will be incubated by the Clean Energy International Incubation Centre (CEIIC). Notably, CEIIC is the joint initiative of the government of India and Tata Trusts, which is supported by the department of biotechnology, BIRAC.
Tech for small scale farmers will go a long way in preventing food wastage.