Bihar: Brother-sister duo made solar-storage, price only 10 thousand rupees


Saptakrishi, the startup of Bihar’s Nikki Kumar Jha and Rashmi Jha, has created a ‘Sabjikothi’ tool. With this help, farmers can keep their produce fresh for a month.

As we all know that cold storage is needed to keep fruits and vegetables fresh. But, every farmer neither has this facility nor can all farmers pay the rent. Because of this, many farmers have to bear losses every year. A brother-sister duo from Bihar has found a solution to this problem of farmers.

Nikki Kumar Jha of Naya Tola Dudhaila village in Bhagalpur district of Bihar and his sister, Rashmi Jha, designed a particular type of storage system Sabjikothi’. ‘Sabjikothi’ is a specific type of ‘storage’ system, which can be easily installed anywhere, in the fields, home courtyard or market. It looks like a tent from the outside, but it is designed so that a ‘microclimate’ (microalgae) remains inside it.

Also, it does not put any harmful microorganisms (pathogens) on fruits and vegetables. You can also use it during the transportation of fruits and vegetables. Vegetables can also be readily applied on any cart, e-rickshaw or truck. In this, fruits and vegetables remain fresh for 3 to 30 days. 

25-year-old Nikki told The Better India, “Sabjikothi is effective from farmers to small and big agricultural entrepreneurs. The best thing is that this system requires only 20 watts of electricity and one litre of water a day. A battery has been installed in it, which is charged with solar energy. ”

Idea from sister: 

Nikki Jha holds a master’s degree in Ecology and Environment Studies from Nalanda University, and her sister, Rashmi Jha, is a biotechnologist. For her master’s research project, Nikki conceived to solve the farmers’ problem and designed a cold storage system. This system of his was solar-powered. But his experiment failed because it did not succeed during the rainy season.

He explains, “I once had a discussion about this project at home. To this, my sister said, that what did you do differently in your project? Everybody is making cold storage. It struck me that there is no option other than cold storage so that we can find a way to keep fruits and vegetables fresh for longer. ” 

Subsequently, Nikki researched storage systems that do not require refrigeration. As they progressed, they prepared ‘Sabjikothi’. In collaboration with Rashmi, she started her startup, Saptakrishi in 2019, to spread this innovation to her people.

His startup got incubation earlier from IIT Patna, and now IIT Kanpur is helping him in designing and funding. Saptakrishi is also getting support from SKUAST-Jammu by the RKVY-RAAFTAR mission. Also, he was supported in collaboration with the AGNIi Mission, a major initiative under the Office of the Prime Scientific Advisor, and one of nine technology missions under the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council ( PM-STIAC ). He is also helped by Wilgro’s Innovation Program, supported by IIT-Kanpur. 

Nikki explains, “We have prepared ‘Sabjikothi’ with different capacities. It starts with 250 kg and the other two models are 500 kg and 1000 kg. A vegetable refrigerator can store ten times more fruits and vegetables than a standard refrigerator and use very little electricity. It costs significantly less than other cold storage. The price of Sabjikothi starts at Rs 10,000. ”

He has installed a model in the canteen of IIT Kanpur as a pilot project. He is also working with Saurabh Tiwari, a small agri-entrepreneur in Bhagalpur. 

Saurabh does home-delivery of fruits and vegetables through his brand ‘Sabjiwala’ in Bhagalpur. Saurabh says that earlier, he used to buy fruits and vegetables from the mandi every morning and deliver them home. “But during the lockdown last year, I came to know about Nikki’s Sabjikothi. They explained the benefits to me, and I thought of doing a trial. This is beneficial because now I can keep fruits and vegetables for more days. That is why I buy fresh fruits and vegetables directly from the farmers and send them to the people. With this, not only my earnings have increased, but my work has also increased, and now I am also able to give employment to 10 people, ”he said. 

Farmers’ income may increase: 

Nikki further told that he knew the problems of the farmers closely, then he came to understand that the loss of the farmers is only in taking the fruits and vegetables to the market. He says, “Farmers take fruits and vegetables from farm to market in a cart, and during this time, the water of fruits and vegetables dries up due to no storage. Also, ethylene gas is released from these, which causes the early ripening of fruits and vegetables. The weight of fruits and vegetables in the field decreases by two to three kilos by the time it reaches the market. Because of this, there is a difference of at least two-three thousand rupees in the income of farmers every month, but nobody pays any attention to this. ” 

Where as farmers can also use vegetable in transportation. By taking fruits and vegetables in it, their water does not dry up. In the atmosphere inside it, ethylene gas is broken into small molecules not to harm fruits and vegetables. This storage also facilitates sterilisation, which prevents fruits and vegetables from any harmful bacteria. 

Nikki 4i is preparing a special kind of ‘cart model’ with the help of Lab-IIT Kanpur and SIIC -IIT Kanpur. This cart model will have the facility to store fruits and vegetables and sell them directly to the customers. At the same time, he plans to plant Sabji Kothi for farmers in groups of ten so that he can reach as many people as possible. He has also received the 3M CII Young Innovators Challenge Award, 2020 for his invention and the 6th India International Science Festival, 2020. Of course, this invention of Nikki Jha can prove to be effective for farmers.