1. Success Story

Stubble Burning: Fight Air Pollution by Converting Crop Waste to Fertilizer

Vidyut Mohan, a 30-year-old entrepreneur has created a solution that would help to fight air pollution and generate revenue for locals. His company – ‘Takachar’ – has developed a technology that converts waste biomass into fertilizer.

Dimple Gupta
Vidyut Mohan - the entrepreneur who developed the machine
Vidyut Mohan - the entrepreneur who developed the machine

Vidyut Mohan, a 30-year old entrepreneur has created a solution that would help to fight air pollution and generate revenue for locals. His company – ‘Takachar’ – has developed a technology that converts waste biomass into fertilizer.

With the advancing winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, cold weather begins to set in and the air gets thick with smoke. After their winter harvest, many farmers clear their leftover rice stubble by setting their entire fields on fire to prepare it for the incoming wheat crop. Stubble burning generates an extensive amount of smoke across the state of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and the national capital – New Delhi.

Every year the government makes several attempts to reduce stubble burning by providing alternate solutions to the farmers, but have failed badly.

Takachar has calibrated a machine so portable that it can be loaded into the back of a small truck or hitched to a tractor and taken across the farmland. The crop waste is fed into the machine and is roasted in a controlled way that eliminates polluting particulate matter and carbon dioxide emissions.

As compared to the open burning of agricultural waste, our equipment prevents up to 98% of smoke emissions. After a while, this roasting process produces fertilizer. Takachar intends to collaborate with entrepreneurs across India, who will use the machines to clean fields for the farmers and share in the profits generated from selling fertilizer”, said Mohan.

The machine was recently awarded over $1.3 million as a winner of Prince William’s Earth shot Prize. Mohan with his team have started trials in India and have already launched their prototype in California and Kenya. The latest version is able to process different kinds of waste biomass into activated carbon, which can be used to remove pollutants and for other purification processes and companies are willing to pay top dollar for this. The machine was created to combat climate change by generating marketable products from waste biomass, and aims to increase the net income of rural communities by 40%.

Rohtash Hooda, a farmer in the state of Haryana said – “If the machine is set up properly, we will get rid of rice straw, get fertilizer and save money.

Air Pollution Problem

According to the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) – “India has the highest levels of air pollution globally, and its residents would live an average of 5.9 years longer if the country reduces its pollution levels within World Health Organization guidelines. All of India’s 1.3 billion residents face annual average pollution levels that exceed guidelines set by WHO”, which is published in an annual report by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).

Northern states of India are mostly agricultural economies suffer the most because of the rice stubble burning which is a major contributor to pollution in the region. Hira Jangra, a 30-year old laborer in Haryana said – “When they start the burning, we experience problem in breathing. When we are outside, our eyes water and also, there are road accidents because of the smog. It feels like we are suffocating.

By 2030, we want to impact 30 million farmers worldwide directly or indirectly and sell close to 200,000 systems, processing 120 million tons of agricultural and forest waste annually” – said Mohan.

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