My home state Punjab in northern India is popularly known as the ‘bread basket of India’ . However, in the last few years, the increase in wheat production led to the state becoming one of the leading contributors of pollution ensuring a ‘gas chamber’ effect across its borders to include the neighbouring states of Haryana and Delhi. The primary cause is the 23 million tonnes of paddy straw from harvested fields which need to be eliminated quickly before the next sowing cycle ( a gap of less than 30 days) leading to destroying the stubble by setting the fields on fire. This has a direct impact on the levels of smog and deteriorating air pollution index. It is undoubtedly one of the largest recurring environmental disasters which needed to be addressed at the earliest, and the genesis of my project ‘Crop Residue Fortune’.
Crop Residue Fortune is designed as a socially motivated company that incentivises farmers to inhibit the burning of stubble and view it as a commercial commodity. The company acts as facilitators by buying the crop residue from farmers and selling it as raw material to various industries in the market at a substantially cost beneficial price. Living in Punjab, we, the founders of the company, have not only inhaled the toxic environment created by this unhealthy practice, but also witnessed the mass destruction of an industrial resource. We intend to put a stop to this practice by putting the crop residue to use in multiple industries. Being pioneers in this field, we have a vision to collaborate with like-minded partners across the country ensuring a pan-India impact.
The farmers are paid a variable amount per tonne of stubble to allow us to use our own machinery and labour to acquire crop residue from their farmland. Thereafter, we supply the stubble to our target market industries at a substantially cost beneficial price.
Support from LaunchX , our parents, and Punjab Energy Development Agency helped us launch the business in real time! We organized our processes and systems to efficiently run the business investing in relevant machinery to ensure smooth functioning. In fact, this April , we acquired 2000 tonnes of crop residue from socially conscious land owners in Punjab and supplied it to bio-mass industries. Memorandums of understanding have been acquired for phase two of the business during the second harvesting season in September, 2018! We have enhanced our marketing efforts to include more farmlands and industrial units under our umbrella. We have reached out to government bodies and environment agencies to align our processes with their networks. This will considerably help us expand our customer base. Furthermore, we are in the process of creating awareness and educational tools to inform and educate the farming community of the ill effects of burning stubble while apprising them of the inherent economic potential of stubble.
We have received substantial amount of recognition for our work, too! We earned the ‘Most Customer Engagement Award’ at the Regional Event of LaunchX in China. Furthermore, we have been interviewed by 13 media channels who have actively espoused our cause both in print and electronic media. We hope to continue to work in year 2 of LaunchX and expand our business to the extent we can affirmatively say that yes, we laid the foundation of a sustainable partnership between an environmental issue and a commercial venture-- Crop Residue Fortune!
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