Nikky Kumar Jha, the co-founder & CEO of the Saptkrishi Scientific Pvt. Ltd. which is a young Agri-Tech start-up with youth in decisive roles who are determined to work towards agricultural innovation and the transformation of rural South-East Asia through development of low cost storage and transportation solution for farmers and traders engaged with horticulture and floriculture. They have developed microclimate storage (Preservator/ Sabjikothi), which is a low-cost storage and transportation solution that can be utilized for storing and preserving up to 500 kgs of horticultural produce from 10 to 40 days at just Rs. 10,000.
The entire setup of Sabjikothi can be assembled on any suitable means of transportation (E-rickshaw, mini-trucks, thelas, etc.) and can transport contamination-free and pathogen-free fruits and vegetables from the field to the market without any water loss or decay. It requires only 20 watts of power and 1 liter of water and has a battery back-up of a day and an option of solar charging.
Sabjikothi/ Preservator extends the shelf life of perishable horticultural produce through the construction of a high-humid and sterile isolated chamber. This chamber is incorporated with high-end technology that suppresses pathogens as well as the respiration rate of fruits and vegetables, thus inhibiting ethylene biosynthesis which is responsible for perishability.
It oxidizes ethylene into small molecules, thus delaying browning and ripening, and also regulating the activity of the antioxidant enzyme. The controlled microclimate created inside the Sabjikothi enables the preservation of fruits and vegetables anywhere between 10 to 40 days.
The only major solution in the past to the problem of the perishability of horticultural produce has been the cold storage units, which need high investment and are harmful due to extreme temperatures. The freezing process causes undesirable changes in the texture of some foods, as the moisture in the cells expands when frozen and breaks the cell walls, making them mushy. Even small cold storages need high initial investment and high maintenance contrary to cost-effective and zero maintenance product. They are far ahead of cold storage in terms of technological advancement and quality assurance as well.
Saptkrishi’s product Sabjikothi is an innovation that is based upon the idea of not just inhibiting the problem but destroying it from the roots. It works on the principle of degradation of ethylene itself, which is responsible for the perishability of fruits and vegetables. Sabjikothi comes with the novel idea to incorporate storage and transportation solutions into one single unit while using ethylene-degradation as the preservation technique.
The primary aim of Saptkrishi’s innovation ‘Sabjikothi’ is the upliftment of the small and marginal farmers. Those who spend their entire lives producing to feed others, while being underpaid and getting exploited by middlemen. They work tirelessly in fields only to see around half of their produce getting wasted due to inadequate technological solutions.
However, with Saptkrishi’s affordable technology, the farmers do not need to sell their produce at meager amounts to the traders in town. They can themselves store and carry their produce to the market without worrying about its perishability. This way, they can earn 40-50% more than what they were earning from selling to traders in town.
Sabikothi comes with an app that links the entire setup with your smartphone. The farmers can control and change the microclimate created inside the Sabjikothi according to their needs either manually or simply with this app. The app also gives auto-updates about the quality of the products kept inside Sabjikothi.
The IoT enabled setup makes a web of farmers linked to each other through this app, where they can share, exchange, and distribute information. The data collected by the app gives a fair estimate of the usage and movement of horticultural produce across areas, thus helping in checking the wastage and visualizing profitable farming trends.
It is important to mention here that the app and related services come as additional features that add to the technological revolution of agriculture. The innovation works perfectly without them as well.
Recently, Covid-19 has worsened the condition of the horticulture sector by hampering transportation and risking contamination in the supply chain. Saptkrishi’s solution would be very helpful in building back the horticulture sector in a better and healthier way. The high-end technology of Preservator has the potential to kill even the deadliest pathogens and thus keep the stored products free from any kind of contamination while preserving their freshness.
Recently, they launched a pilot trial of Sabjikothi in Bhagalpur, Bihar; where they worked with a micro-entrepreneur ‘Sabjiwala’ to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to the doorstep of customers during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The pilot brought to life the motto of “Bagaan se makaan tak” (बगान सेमकान तक) and bridged the gap between the producer and the consumer. The pilot saw a participation of more than 200 small and marginal farmers, with their income increased by more than 40% as their produce wasn’t going to waste anymore and they were getting paid far better.
In the subsequent months, they plan to expand to all agro-climatic zones of India. Along with this, they are also planning to set up small industries that will act as employment centers for rural India. Saptkrishi’s technology is clean, green, and reduces energy consumption by more than 80% as compared to conventional cold-storages. They also have the potential to reduce GHG emissions by significant amounts leading to the development of a cleaner and healthier environment.
For more details, you can contact Nikky Kumar Jha at [email protected]