Three years ago, farmers in Dudhanwadi village in Satara district, Maharashtra worried about their sericulture harvest as their area fell under the shadow of the rains of the Western Ghats.
Pradhan Village (Chief) Bopatrao Jadhav considered various options since the village was fed by rain. This led him to Avana, a division of Emmbi Industries based in Mumbai. Avana came up with an affordable solution for water conservation called Jalasanchay.
The solution is to create an artificial pond with a recyclable polymer liner at the bottom. This preserves water and prevents it from seeping into the earth. It can be provided at one-tenth the cost of traditional methods of conserving water.
âIt’s a frugal innovation. You dig a pit on or near the farm. You cover it with a material that prevents water seepage so that farmers can store excess water and use it when they need it later, âsaid Maithili Appalwar, CEO of Avana.
Impressed by Avana’s solution offer, Jadhav called for a meeting of the villagers where some producers showed up to install ponds on their farms. The ponds were put in place and soon the results started to show.
Each farmer benefited from at least 25,000 that year through sericulture. In one year, 48 of these ponds were set up in Dudhanwadi.
In the four years of its existence, Avana has established nearly 15,000 ponds with its Jalasanchay solution and conserved 54 billion liters of water that have helped more than 81,000 people in seven states. It has also resulted in a near doubling of farmers’ incomes.
To supply Jalasanchay, Avana had to overcome two major challenges. The first was to make the solution so affordable that âeven the farmers at the bottom of the pyramidâ could use it. The second was to make it environmentally sustainable.
âWe have developed linings that are durable, affordable and fully recyclable. Once we prepared the fabric (used as a liner), we found that leaks were occurring through the seams in the fabric. So we designed the widest fabric in the world to reduce the number of seams and therefore infiltration, âsaid Appalwar.
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The liner is produced in the Silvassa unit of parent company Emmbi Industries using its patented âProtexâ technology.
âJalasanchay is an affordable solution for storing rainwater and also increases the level of groundwater,â she said, adding that she and her colleagues got their hands dirty while visiting various villages and establishing partnerships with panchayats.
Avana has also partnered with non-governmental organizations to educate people about Jalasanchay. Overall, the business, which is Appalwar’s brainchild, has saved 3.5 billion liters of water on more than 6,000 farms. In addition, it organizes bank credit facilities and offers after-sales service.
Led by Appalwar, the Avana team of 150 young workers works with farmers on various farming solutions in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana.
Kapila Murghas bag
Another innovation from Avana is the âKapila Murghasâ bag, which can store fodder for livestock using a new fabric incorporating âFodder texâ technology. This is very different from the bags made from used recycled fabric that are available in the market.
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The bag is four times stronger than the existing bags on the market and has been approved by Baramati Krishi Vigyan Kendra and Gokul Dairy, Kolhapur. The bag has a food grade liner which ensures the safety of forage and livestock.
Avana’s solutions have won Georgia Institute of Technology industrial engineering graduate Maithili Appalwar, the Georgia Tech’s Environment Leader Award, and the KS2 Technology Most Innovative Technology Award. On top of that, she won the Diana Award 2019, a prestigious award given to a young woman for social and humanitarian work. She was recognized on Georgia Tech’s 40 Under 40 list as one of the most promising innovators, entrepreneurs and trendsetters.