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A car ride from Bangalore to Chennai through the Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu is definitely exciting but for the repelling stink along the entire stretch which had left me inquisitive. There definitely wasn’t a municipal dumping ground close by. But, yes there were piles of mango peels stocked along the highway which could easily be mistaken for an urban waste dump.

The mango pulp factories lined up along the highway not knowing any other way of disposing off the peels, used to dump them by the side of the road. Mango peels are highly acidic which do not allow the decomposing bacteria to act faster and thus the stench. Management of solid waste was one big problem that amused neither the travellers nor the workers or the nearby villagers who are employed in these factories. They just didn’t know what to do!

The solution was not far away. The scientists in Sharaz Farm Academy found a simple solution to this “stinking” problem. They introduced a new and simple technique of neutralising the acidity of mango peel by using egg shells available in plenty in the area and then converting the mass into manure through vermicompost. The stinking mass in the new avatar turned into the important manure for the mango farmers and that too at a low cost!

Sharaz Farm Academy approached Nabard Rural Innovation fund for assistance. They demonstrated the innovative technology of converting mango peels into organic manure. They sought fund assistance for establishing five demonstration centres in five block headquarters and for providing training to the women members of the SHGs in the hinterland villages in this new technology.

The economic value of this innovation was apparent and Nabard Bank Rural Innovation Fund approved funding of 8.91 lakhs by way of grant for the following:

– establishment of demonstration centres (including temporary sheds for these centres),

– managing costs recurring expenditure of all these centres for one year

– conducting 10 programmes per centre (50 programmes in all) each covering 25 women members of nearby villages (1250 members in all).

The mango peels collected from the pulp factories are mixed with egg shells. After two to three days, the mass is mixed with mud and subjected to vermin-compost. In two to three weeks’ time, organic manure of high quality is produced which is supplied to farmers. Many women at SHGs make a living from this venture which does not require any capital investment. More than 1,250 SHG members have trained under the project.

Approximately 500MT of organic manure is generated through the mango peels available in Krishnagiri district and sold at 4000 per MT. The expected income is around 20 lakh.

The total availability of mango peel in the district is 40,000 MT which could fetch 16 crore, if the whole supply of the peel is converted into manure.

Thus the mango peel project is a form of livelihood for women, a boon for the farmers and above all, a happy end to the ordeal of bearing the stench for the travellers.

The projects Nabard supports must adhere to certain conditions.

  • The benefit must go to the rural;
  • It must be truly innovative;
  • It must be commercially viable.

The Nabard Rural Innovation Fund was established to help communities in realizing their potential. Rural innovations help rural households enhance incomes and offer entrepreneurial opportunities. This fund has been created with a view to synergise pursuit of programmes for promoting rural non-farm sector. Nabard aims at supporting innovative, risk-friendly, unconventional and pro-poor experiments in farm, non-farm and micro-credit areas with the possibility of promoting livelihood opportunities and employment in rural areas.

The bank has identified certain areas like dry land/rain-fed farming, rain water harvesting, biomass energy, crop residues and non-crop residues, distribution and use of water and energy, storage devices for agriculture and rural production, roads, sanitation, micro-finance, skill development and micro-enterprises, where this fund could be utilised. Any individual, cooperative society, NGO, Panchayati Raj institution or university is eligible for help under the fund.

P.V. Ramachandran, GM-Nabard

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