2019 Young Entrepreneurs Awards winner: Nidhi Pant
Initiative: Science for Society
Country of impact: India
The solar-powered device helping India’s most vulnerable farmers make more from their land
India loses 60 million tonnes of agricultural produce due to post-harvest losses every year.
Born in Uttarakhand to a family of farmers, Nidhi Pant experienced the difficulties of making a living from the land at a young age.
Faced with unpredictable weather and unstable land, food was scarce for her family. Pressure to provide was immense, and tragically one of Nidhi’s relatives took their own life, unable to cope with the constant struggle.
“I knew I had a choice: to be strong or to shatter. I chose to be strong,” Nidhi remembers.
Nidhi enrolled to study engineering, determined to find a way to create technology that would help improve conditions for farmers – reducing waste and preventing malnutrition. Science for Society (S4S) is the brilliant result.
A solar-powered solution to post-harvest waste
The company has developed a solar conduction dryer that allows farmers to dehydrate food produce such as fruit, spices, vegetables, fish or meat quickly and easily. It means the food they harvest can be stored for longer, minimising waste and providing nutrition for farming families and their customers.
Farmers – primarily women smallholders – using the device have already reported an increase in profit of more than 50% by selling dried goods. And not only does the dryer pay for itself within 100 days, each device can also save 50 tonnes of carbon dioxide in ten years, compared with electrical dryers.
“We’re listening to the voices unheard and seeing opportunity where others see distress,” says Nidhi. “My mother taught me that we rise by lifting others. That’s what we want to do.”
S4S dryers are now available in 22 cities across India and are also being used by smallholder farmers in Kenya and Nepal.