1. Success Story

This Farmer Developed Tapioca ‘Elixir’ That Saves 50% Water & Increases Crop Yield By 20%

Ayushi Raina
Ayushi Raina
This Farmer Developed Tapioca ‘Elixir’

Yogesh Sonar of Durg, Chhattisgarh, is well aware of the issues that farmers in and surrounding his state experience. He expressed his concerns about farmer suicides, dwindling and deteriorating agricultural land, and farmers abandoning the field. 

"Water shortage causes drought conditions, which leads to an ever-increasing pile of debt, forcing them to resort to extreme measures.  In fact, the government's Niti Aayog report from 2019 explicitly mentions how hundreds of farmers are leaving the profession," Yogesh stated. 

His experiences with farmer hardships are not just observational; as a child, he observed how his father's farming efforts were impacted by an unending water crisis"After Holi (March), the groundwater levels in our hamlet Dhamda dried up, and we battled to get water for our crops until the monsoons," he recalled. 

Yogesh chose to leverage his skills as a farmer in 2014, while pursuing post-graduation in science, to devise environmentally friendly solutions that are now bringing relief to farmers across the country and worldwide. 

An ecologically sustainable solution 

According to him, his innovative organic water retention product Earth Elixir saves up to 50% of crop water requirements and enhances output by 20%. 

"The water retention formula is made of tapioca and six additional compounds.  These chemicals' combined effects enhance water retention capacity by 300 times. The technique reduces the frequency in which irrigation is necessary by keeping the soil moisture at the desired level. It improves soil productivity because of the potassium-based cellulose produced from a Katira plant extract, which balances the carbon and nitrogen levels in the soil," he adds, adding that the product is completely biodegradable. 

The 32-year-old claims to have started working on the formula throughout his academic years and achieved success in 2018. 

"I created the product by incubating a startup Nature Walls Biotech Pvt. Ltd. with Indira Gandhi National University as part of the National Agriculture Program.  On my farm, I put it to the test by producing brinjal, tomato, and other seasonal vegetables. The quality of the crop was impressive, especially with the size of fruits and consistency,” he says. 

However, he experienced difficulty commercializing the product. Yogesh explains that his product neither fell under the fertilizer category or any other category registered with the agriculture department. "The agricultural department only granted me permission to sell it as a production enhancer product in 2019.  I began making and distributing it through a Bengaluru-based company," he explained. 

Initially, the firm sold Yogesh's product to farmers in Africa and Malaysia, he claims, adding that the product was well-received in those nations and eventually found a market in Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other countries. "Apart from six nations, my products are distributed throughout India, likely benefiting millions of farmers," he added. 

He claims that overall sales have helped him earn Rs.5 crores of turn over the last two years. Yogesh has also created 14 other products that assist farmers in various agricultural aspects of crop improvement. "I have a monopoly on selling eight of my products, while the rest are sold to other companies that resell them under their own brand name. 

Discussions are underway with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), which will assist me in improving the products and establishing a manufacturing unit," he claimed. 

But, for the time being, Yogesh is satisfied with his contribution, which supports the agricultural community. "I am pleased with my newfound accomplishment and intend to continue making a significant contribution to the community by exploring new products," he said. 

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