1. Agriculture World

IIT Bombay alumni’s designs environmentally sustainable cooler to help farmers keep their produce fresh for longer

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap

Three IIT Bombay alumni namely Gunvant Nehete, Sharayu Kulkarni, and Vikash Jha designed the Subjee Cooler to help farmers keep their produce fresh for longer. They started the agri-tech startup in 2019 at Thane namely RuKart Technologies which aims to make small-sized farming technologies which are economically, and environmentally sustainable.

Subjee Cooler is an affordable, no-maintenance vegetable cooler that provides a lifeline to marginal farmers by increasing their profits. With this, farmers can harvest their produce when they want to, and store it for a few days to get a better price.The principle of evaporative cooling and do not require any utilities. However, it needs watering at least once a day. This on-farm structure, built to work as a mud pot, does not require any additional investment in power utility. Based on the farmer’s requirement, Subjee Cooler comes in various sizes.

The RuKart Technologies design develops and disseminates affordable, recurring, cost-free, robust, and scalable products to reduce the input cost and mitigate the risk in cultivation. It raised seed funding from its alma mater, CTARA – IIT Bombay, where professor across the departments like CTARA (Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas), CSE (Computer Science and Engineering), and SJMSOM (Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management) are actively guiding the startup’s efforts.

“We used to visit villages as a part of our course. We realised that the farmers weren’t earning all that much from the sales of their produce, and we wanted to find a solution to that problem,” says VikashJha, Co-founder of RuKart

The farming community was one of the worst-hit during the lockdown, with issues like severe disruptions in the supply chain of farm produce, and closing down of the local mandis, markets, and transport facilities. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has issued state-wise guidelines for farmers to be followed during the lockdown period. The advisory mentions specific practices during harvest and threshing of various Rabi (winter-sown) crops as well as post-harvest, storage and marketing of the farm produce.

According to a survey conducted by NSSO in the year 2012-13, three in four farmers in India operate marginal landholdings less than one hectare of land. With limited storage capacity for produce from their small plots of land, these farmers are susceptible to distress sales, as well as getting a poor price for their produce.

RuKart Technologies installed the first 75 Subjee Coolers units in states such as Odisha, Bihar, and Maharashtra. And, amid the COVID-19 lockdown, the product gained more visibility as the farmers could store their unsold produce for that time being and then sell it at a good price. At present, it has over 150 Subjee Coolers in the pipeline.

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