Need to sensitise students to rural innovation, says Anil Rajvanshi an alumnus of IIT Kanpur
An alumnus of IIT Kanpur and University of Florida, Anil K Rajvanshi has dedicated his life to the application of science and technology for rural development. A recipient of the Jamnalal Bajaj award, Rajvanshi has extensive experience in renewable energy research, rural and sustainable development. As the director of Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), Phaltan, Rajvanshi initiated a number of technology-based projects for rural development. He shares his thoughts on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Nari on March 17.pune Updated: Mar 17, 2018 15:39 IST
What have been the challenges faced in the road ahead to rural development?
The biggest challenge is to get people to work. Nobody really wants to work here.They all wish to be in big cities. The country does not lack good brains. It is the mentality that needs to evolve and change. People have a mindset that good work only lies in the urban spaces. If we had the people with the required mindset, Nari would’ve been expand better and would have been able to bring real changes to the villages of the country. We need to empower rural areas, which is the base of the country, to eventually strengthen the country as a whole. Funding has been another challenge, that we have been trying to overcome over the years.
What are the major aspects that the government needs to focus for rural development?
The fact is that rural India heavily depends on agriculture, and that sector needs to be empowered to bring in drastic changes in the villages. The first step would be to fix the correct price of the produce. It is also important to control the influence of the middlemen and see that farmers are not losing in the process. The government has not come up with a foolproof solution to this problem. There is a huge disparity between the cost the customers pay and what the farmers get for their produce.
What is the scenario with respect to rural innovation?
I have been trying to communicate to the youth to be involved in rural innovation and development, but the response is very low. One reason behind this is lack of sensitisation of students in colleges and universities, towards agriculture. Most prominent institutes including IITs are mostly encouraging the mass to migrate towards IT startups, while there is so much demand in the rural sector.
What are the future plans?
With our eyes on the future, we are looking at high-tech agriculture, specially precision agriculture or container agriculture, which a procedure under controlled conditions. Technically, it means dealing with hydroponics and aeroponics, which results is yields much higher than the usual ground-based agriculture. Hence, through this. you can sometimes even have 5-10 harvests in a year. Also farmers get very little money for their produce, so what is required is processing of their produce into products, that can be sold directly to the market. For instance, the sugary juice produced from the stem of sweet sorghum is being converted to table-variety syrup which has several health benefits and is in great demand in the market. While a sorghum was being sold at Re 1 or Rs 2 per kilogram, the syrup is sold at Rs 400 to Rs 500 per kilogram. Internationally, it is also being sold at Rs 800 per kilogram.We are also developing a solar-powered oil compressor in which the oil can be cold-pressed. The oil that comes out is pure and devoid of chemicals.