Farmers are often faced with issue of low quality yield and loss of soil fertility. To address this issue Chintala Venkat Reddy, a farmer in Awal village in Hyderabad developed an innovative technique of farming to improve the yield of the crops. He used a simple technique to improve the fertility of the soil. Usually the upper layer of soil gets used up so much that it gets depleted of nutrients due to continuous production. However, no crops are able to reach the depth of 5-6 inches below the soil layer. Chintala Venkat thought of using this layer of soil to increase the fertility of the soil. He replaced the top soil of 4-6 inches with the subsoil which is rich in nutrients. This technique led to the highest yield of paddy 10.31 tonnes per hectare and 5.6 tonnes per hectare with wheat as against the normal yields of 5.0 to 6.5 tonnes per hectare for rice and 2.5 to 3.0 tonnes per hectare for wheat.
Initially he experimented with wheat and rice crops but he claims that this technique is useful for all kinds of crop. All types of vegetables, medicinal plants or flowers can be cultivated with such technique which yields 100% better yield than the normal technique of aerating or plowing the fields. Chintala tells that this innovative technique has doubled and tripled the produce based on experience of various farmers. This process is very cost effective and any farmer can use it who knows the technique well. Hence the input costs are minimal and the revenue generation is higher due to increase in the yield.
This novel technique developed by Chintala Venkat has been cleared by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva. He is the first farmer in India to obtain the patent for his novel innovation through WIPO and US PTO. He also applied for patent in another 30 countries. Now he is planning to register a trademark in his name so that the process can be recognized in his name. The main challenge faced by him is to market the process. Once the trademark is registered any farmer who uses this process can market their produce with this trademark and get good value for their crops.
This innovative technique can be used in any country mainly in tropical region like Africa, Philippines, Malaysia, South America and Burma who can benefit by exporting their crops produced by this process to other cold regions. These countries have benefit of healthy and plenty sunlight which is good for the crops produce. Also the subsoil holds natural water and has good holding capacity of water. So this also solves the problem of water scarcity. Thus this simple and yet novel process can help to solve the food problems in most of the countries.
Bhungroo meaning hollow pipe, is a critical tool for rural poor women. Without it they cannot blow the open stove to make their daily cooking to feed their family members. Considering the significance of this tool, Mr. Biplab Ketan Paul came with an innovative idea of Bhungroo Technology whereas Trupti Jain created a gender centric model of execution of Bhungroo. Bhungroo is a technical process (awarded in World Bank Development Marketplace in 2007; in 2014 by UNFCCC), which enables poor small holders to access water in winter and saves farmers from disaster and ensures food security in monsoon and lean period.
The idea of Bhungroo has its roots in Ahmedabad, where people face water crisis. Working across Gujarat and Rajasthan with underprivileged rural women she was pained to find how they needed to fight every day to secure water in all eight months of the year except the monsoon period. Not only that the farms in this area have to face drought situation in summer and winter and flood like situation in monsoon. Both the cases are highly detrimental for poor smallholding women headed households. They have to pick up compelled migration within most disadvantageous position and pushed into vicious cycle of debt trap whereas their family food security is wiped off.
Bhungroo technology aims at addressing these problems by providing water to the farms all-round the year. It has capability to provide nearly 1 million liters of water to the poor small holders in off season towards irrigation of crop. This also helps to reduce the salinity of the land by mixing the underground water storage with the saline soil. In monsoon Bhungroo saves farmers from excess water; in that case the excess rainwater gets filtered by Bhungroo and then that filtered water is stored at subsoil layer. In winter small holders can easily lift that stored water from subsoil storage and use for winter irrigation within a cost of INR 200/acres.
Bhungroo is getting executed in through commune cultivation (five ultra-poor women small holders) with a pre agreement that they will jointly manage their Bhungroo – share irrigation water among each other, contribute their labor in each other lands and work in tandem to achieve economies of scale. Bhungroo is unique solution which can be tailor made upto 12 designs as per the needs of the installation segments.
They had to overcome social, political and economic challenges to make this innovation a success. The main social challenge was acceptance in the community, gaining trust from small land holders and overcoming the traditional belief that male members can only earn and cultivate the land. Economic challenge was taken as an advantage as the penniless farmers could be easily convinced to accept this technology for the cultivation of their farms all-round the year. Otherwise they have threat of losing it to water sellers. Political systems had to be convinced to implement Bhungroo in various villages and to create Self Help Groups to educate women and men about the advantages of this technology.
One Bhungroo creates a minimum income of INR 4 Lakh from year one with added advantage of food security from those land which was unproductive till yesterday. It saves small holders from debt trap and also saves from land ownership loss. This innovation has really helped to empower the women in rural India and make them self-sufficient to maintain their own farm lands. It has solved two issues of women empowerment and water crisis with one invention. Government of Gujarat is promoting this technology to every farmer community and with this approach Trupti feels that it will take another 10 years to utilize the full potential of Bhungroo at Indian level.