One of the things I love most about hosting this podcast is the sheer range of ideas, aspirations and impact I’ve been lucky enough to listen to over the past three years. In some cases we’ve talked about a digital future that we can only just now begin to see coming into shape and in others, extremely practical how-did-we-solve-this-problem-today with nuts, bolts and duct tape… and of course everything in-between.
Today’s show is one of those nuts and bolts conversation. For the 174th Terms of Reference Podcast I speak with Trupti Jain of Naireeta Services about BHUNGROO an unique application of Aquifer Storage and Recovery process for storm water management by enabling farmers to convert challenges like flood/water logging in monsoon and drought in summer into lifelong food security, rural livelihood and climate change mitigation opportunities.
I think you’re going to enjoy this frank conversation about a service that has literally transformed the potential of the agricultural sector in india, Ghana and elsewhere, and, more importantly, the lives of thousands of farmers. We also discuss Trupi’s journey as a woman in our sector and how that has helped to shape who she has become.
You can connect with Trupti here:
IN TOR 174 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT
- “Bhungroo” or Naireeta Services’ model to adress drought and weather unpredictability from the basis of smallholding community organization
- The problem of low drinking water quality education, challenges in climate planning among smallholders, and the value of irrigation on small-scale farming
- The technicalities of irrigation, water containment capacity of soils, percolation and other topics of geohydrological capacity
- How Naireeta follow’s Ghandhian principles about putting poor people first, finances second, and how the strategy has turned out to be a success in long-term sustainability
- Why climate is at least half an education problem
- The special challenges women face on rural India, but also the institutional development and technology sectors around the world
OUR CONVERSATION FEATURES THE FOLLOWING
- Naireeta Services
- Mahatma Gandhi
- US Federal Emergency Management Agenc (FEMA)
- Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards
- Nexus Commonwealth Network
- Drought, Erratic rainfall patterns
- Farming, Smallholding
- Irrigation, Soil water injection, Soil percolation
- Geohydrological surveying
- 2001 Gujarat Earthquake
- Water and Land Rights
- Women, Economic Rights, Women in Agriculture
- Water potability, salinity
- Kutch, Gujarat, India
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
Okay. First I will talk about our innovation Bhungroo because that is the major reason for which they were established in narita services to promote this Bhungroo.
So Bhungroo idea came when we went working in the field of the north and Gujarat where the drought conditions and erratic rain is very height. It is semi-arid region so they want a solutions which solves there the both problem.
One is water logging and second is providing the water for the irrigation inland season.
So Bhungroo was inventing by the people and the farmers after the six-seven years of the process.
And after the invention of it, we came to know that nearly five million farmers alone in India estates and 640 million hectares land of all over the globe is waiting for this kind of innovation. So to scale it up on a large scale we have established this narita services social enterprise in 2011.
And since then we are working in the we have completed one project in Ghana, we are working right now in India, Bangladesh and Vietnam and we are also working in 8 states of India.
Okay. I will explain you that maternal village of our partner estates where we were working to educate them the improving the drinking water quality.
But the problem is that the most of the poor farmers has a small land holding size less than one hectare of the land.
And which is all affected by the salinity problems due to the desertification.
It is located in the India-Pakistan border and where that Kutch desert area is there.
So in the monsoon, there are the only two to four days rain period was there and at that time this their farms where waterlogged for the more than 15 days or one month because of the soil composition sort soil depositions on the surface.
And that’s why the water could not percolate into the soil.
So they could not grow the crops in the monsoon season. And the rest of the two seasons, we have the three seasons over there monsoon, winter and summer.
Winter and summer, they don’t have the irrigation facilities.
Because they are the small land holding size.
Ideally, in the all of the three seasons they could not grow the crop and ultimately they have agricultural labourers into the rich farmer’s farm.
Where there is the big farm is there, where the bore well facilities is there so they are working as a labor so they told us to provide some solutions which gives them the formal status rather than this labor.
so we have invented to this Bhungroo what it’s doing Bhungroo is injecting the water, the surface water while it accumulated in the monsoon season on the soil into the soil I mean as a Bhungroo injected the water into the soil so that in the monsoon free from the water logged area so they could grow the crop.
And in the winter is someone the same water which is stored into the soil they lift it out and pumped it out and they use as for the irrigation purpose.
So they could not take the crop in the single crop in my yard.
Now they are able to take a crop at least two crops in a year.
And so this is life changing I mean innovation for them it’s not just increase their income threefold times but the farmer I mean self-employed status they have taken back. I mean.
Yeah! Depends on the soil percolation capacities it is I mean water storage capacities, so many areas we have found that they could able to take the three and a half crops in a year. I mean.
Okay, so I just try to that of a measure a component of this technology is a cylindrical pipe and in Gujarat our area, a cylindrical pipe known as the “bhugadi” (???)
So people called it as a Bhungroo because of its cylindrical pipe structures which you can see only these structures on the surface area.
Rest of the structures is into the soil.
This is the slightly complex technology it is not a very simple technology as it sounds.
It depends on the soil for capturing capacities which requires the geohydrological survey that to know that how much water can be stored in the soil strata and also we know how does it mix with the groundwater recharge.
Otherwise, we will lost the water we could not store it.
So we are using earth as a tank so that conditions and the water capacities we came to need to know.
Second is the filtration component is very important component in our structures otherwise this will choke the pipe.
You know is what we are doing is filter the water first which is stored on the ground which is not percolated and eventually it will be evaporating term.
So what we are doing is first filter the water then inject this water into this cylindrical pipe which is perforated pipe which we are injected into the soil so the water will go into this pipe and then stored in the different strata of the soil depending on their geohydrological capacities and components.
so the injector (for example 5 lakhs water in the first strata which is locating to the 40 feet 200 feet then the second strata will be at a 250 pause so then we inject the rest of the water into that strata or something like that ).
So basically through the perforated pipe we are doing that one.
And lifting is very simple process.
I mean that is just we are using the mechanical pumps for the lifting up some water.
Okay. So first I told that it is the demand is emerged from the community you know.
They said we want the solution and we took the challenge and we helped them to find this solution.
Although we will not I mean educationally capable of finding the solution but we have just one objective to help them.
And once we have decided that I think whole universe will had supported hers and I mean we got the help from the different kind of persons in a different way which we have never know.
But the hydrologist and the institutions, IIM, IIT and the exports and I mean so after the six-seven years of the piloting work at the ground we could invent it nearly different designs for the different of soil.
Now the things are that it emerged from the community we need not to do the marketing at all.
Because our waiting for it and this is a problem so mouth to mouth publicity supported us a lot.
Second thing is have to be in 2007, we won the world of marketplace award at that time and we came that this is an innovation.
You know you have started these purposes to have the community but we don’t know that this is the innovation kind of applications.
so we came to know this is innovation and then came across with the national level institutions and the global level food and agriculture organization and other people sometimes we came to know that this innovation is the loss of demand not only in India but across the globe.
So marketing is they were a problem for us to scare but to scaling it out, it’s a challenge for us being at the institutional challenge rather than the technical challenge.
We caught it with grand support from the various institutions such started from the wall time to the now the USA to the securing water for food programs and we also got awarded from the millennium airlines award and this has been recognized by the partner too.
So yeah! we got so much supports from the global international organizations and also we got the invitations from the rich farmers too.
But we are living in the Gandhian Philosophy in Gujarat Mahatma Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand
Gandhi’s birthplace here.
And we follow the Gandhian principles like and so first help the poorest poor.
So we just to run our organization make it financial stress sustainable, we are taking the orders from the rich farmers.
But our major goal is to first to support the poor farmers with the ground support and others CSR support.
Yeah! we have this actually it has the one capital cost in Bhungroo then after there is no maintenance cost and nothing and which we do run access for 15 years period after time.
So this capital cost has been recovered within two and half years’ time by the farmers.
That’s our average Estimate.
So it has the four component in our cost, one is Reiki survey, one is geohydrological survey, third is the installation of the Bhungroo and fourth is the filtration chambers formation of filtration chambers.
So this four component cost if you want to install in a one place and one unit it costs too higher I mean which costs 9000 to 10000 dollars per unit term.
But if it’s on the large scales and depending on the geohydrological area, if the 100 units in the one area only and cost is very low 30-40 percent cost.
Yeah! We are always not giving over the poorest poor farmers we are not giving them the free.
But as you know that they cannot give the money on the cash we can take the contribution in that kind.
So, yeah! They are contributing in terms of the labor, in terms of their time and etc.
But still for that to support the poorest so far as we need to outside the supports.
Oh No no. I just want to tell that this innovation came accident.
I mean we have never thought we were working as even bought me and Biplab at the development workers.
Since right from the beginning of my career being an environmental engineer I focus it on the environmental issues.
And while I was working in the rural area I found that women are the most vulnerable from climate and changing in fact and then also the women are the missile contributions in the sustainable development.
so I was really starting from the beginning we are inclined with the women and momentum related issues Biplow has started the work there was a development in this area I mean in the rural area in 1997 to 1998 which is the semi-arid region and is located in here to India Pakistan border.
So I told you that Sir we were working in the beginning like a is promoting that education activity is a formation of the savings and credit groups within the community and make them aware about the improving the drinking water quality etc.
But community was suffering from a different kind of problems as I explained earlier they have the major problem is livelihood.
Because although they were holding a land which is a very small size but they could not cultivate it and it is uncultivable and that’s why they have to work as a labor in the rich farmers.
So they came to us and they said why don’t you find this solutions but we don’t have this background of any educational background.
So we didn’t take the challenge initially but after 2001, the Gujarat was affected with the very devastated earthquake and after the earthquake them measure the rural communities have lost their other livelihood options too.
At this time ,we have decided to took his challenge as a to find it out this in the solution for their problem.
So communities identify the problems we just helped and facilitated and then make sure after the seven to eight years of trial and error we came with this innovations which is not perfect I mean for this kind of community.
Yeah, it’s decades and it is also coming from the marketing community needs only.
so we don’t have to be now there’s so much time I mean like the other startup in accelerators they are finding that road up, they are reaching the customers after developing the product that how it will help them.
So here is the almost all the reverse process we have done and now though almost all the market is ready for us and it’s the challenge for us how to be we can scale up on the larger scale.
Oh I love these questions because I think now we have just concentrated on the innovations.
But now questions because for the two reasons because in agriculture sectors women conditions is very poor and that is also the challenge.
We have taken up not only the envision of the Bhungroo but how we can empower the women farmers
Let me explain first us in India what is the status of the women farmers, I mean almost all the activities done by the women in the agriculture areas as for the ones it is more than 86 percent activities and still it’s her work is not recognized not only under the monetary terms but also in terms of the knowledge recognition.
You know I mean they are in these agriculture sectors since years and years from one generation to the second generation, second generation to the third generation.
So they are the immense knowledge on the agricultural sectors and which is not recognized yet.
Second thing is that are like household activities this is also unpaid activity for them this is also not recognized by then the monetary terms so what we have decided after this innovation that Bhungroo is capable of taking care of the catchment area of five acres of land and one farmer has the less than one acre of land poorest poor farmer because we are working with them
So there is a need of grouping of the farmers you know this because one unit can be capable of serving the five farmers land.
so while it comes of the grouping of the farmers at the time if the men’s are owning this innovation then it will be a problem of the distribution of water.
And particularly the community where we are working they are very very I mean they will not let go the single drop of the water others I mean so it will create a problem in future.
So we decided that we will give the ownership of the Bhungroo to the women farmers.
Let’s see I mean first the distribution of the water problems will be managed by the women groups very wisely – we have the confidence because of the area who are already working with that women since a couple of years and second that they don’t have any recognition in agriculture sectors till later.
And if the Bhungroo rights is given to them I mean and they don’t have any properties I mean less than 2 percent of the women have the land on their own name.
So although they are contributing a lot in the agriculture sectors they don’t have this in a property register.
It’s the water rights we are giving them without the water land is not cultivable even if we decided that the water rights we given to them then it really makes the difference and then we have given these Bhungroo rights I mean the Bhungroo ownership to the group of women farmers.
And I tell you that this is the innovations which will like to move the technology innovations because I mean what magically and it is the bungroo rights empowered women a lot not only they have participating in the local village politics but I mean they have done this work I mean technology correction technology in our adoptions and all the things very very wisely.
So it’s changed there it leads the empowerment of the women groups on a large scale.
Oh, it is a challenging a lot, the first challenge in the Bhungroo innovation the challenge was that our technological capacities you know.
But in the second part which I called is a strategic innovation and that challenge what FEMA I mean it’s a lot because to date it is a petri elliptical societies they have not recognized women at all in the agriculture sector so there is the lots of obstacles comes from the women only.
No no we cannot take the leadership, how can we will do this one and then I mean something and if we took the ownership of the Bhungroo what will our men will say to us, they will beaten at the home once you will go or something like that.
So to changing the social pattern is really very challenging.
But we could do it over here only this is not be able to do it in other areas because in this area we have the lots of presence and we have the community acceptance for the decades.
So they have accepted us we have the rapport with this women groups, we make the menfolk understand and also there the other land is not cultivable and if it’s this one Bhungroo will come then it will become the pattern reverses that men folks also recognize that oh till date we have not lost anything.
So let them try I mean so as a first chance or opportunities they are also ready.
So this is the holy changing of the social patterns this is a really very challenging task.
I can tell you that being one I had worked with the development sectors and promoted the government headed the promoted government institutions for more than decade I reign on campaign which was given the land rights to the women for nearly 5 years with the help of 80 NGO’s and we could not I mean changing that pattern at all.
Because even if these land is not cultivable it is prestige issue for the men that know they are owning this land I mean so I ask social to, I mean what to raise the voice against social pattern it is a very difficult task rather than the adoption of the technology is a very easy task.
Yeah, it’s a very good question Stephen and still we’re struggling with it you know.
So I don’t have very clear-cut answers but I can tell you about what is the status right now.
At the global level related is the technology requirement is very high and you know if its not if it’s the technology is not in the hand of women and we cannot stop that one because that is also unethical is I mean to support the poor farmers and on the second hand to empower the women and to get in all over the globe this is the India situation.
I’m telling you the day we don’t have the property rights but while I have a travelling to the global level it is the more or less the women conditions in the farming sector is so there isn’t the need of the women at the global level too.
So that but it requires the lots of efforts and energy to put into you know I mean it’s social process it is not like that 1+1 it becomes 2 at the one week of time or the 15 days of time I mean it requires.
So what we are doing like that we are developing the partners about the local existence NGO and if it’s local existing NGO local existing forms or local existing company then if they are working with the women farmers they’ve already rapport with the women farmers then we are giving them the first preference to provide our technology and then have the MOU and some things and then they will take up this process on that scale.
So that it becomes a sustainable sense.
So in Bangladesh we are working with us in this partnership model they are so working in Vietnam with the Oxfam with this partnership model and also the partners will make it sustainable.
But sometimes so many partners are not ready to work with the woman organization we could not approach this partners and so at that time we are just have this partnership in terms of the knowledge sharing of the Bhungroo.
So for example in Canada we have this kind of partnerships. So we are always looking for the partnerships but these are ready to work with the women environment but very very less organizations and our partnership opportunity we could get paid it.
That is the one thing in this like minded people all the people who are working in this sector with them.
So networking of this kind of people it’s helped me a lot to get me updated that is the one thing.
So like on my Biplow s fellow is a lots of friend from the Ashoka.
I am in the Cartier Network and Commonwealth Networks and the leader fellow leadership in environment development at and then the partners who was working with the securing water for food.
So we are always getting in touch with this kind of the people who are really working in this field and so you get updated by knowing their experiences learnings not only technological aspects but then learning on social aspects, they’re learning on institutional aspects they’re learning on human resource aspects and that’s what we get updated.
And I’m reading and I’m aware of there’s some websites and other things but I’m telling you that I’m most get updated through these kinds of people.
I don’t have any kind of secret mission with me.
Yeah, we are always upgrading ourselves that how this Bhungroo works in other geographical regions you know.
I mean we know that Bhungroo is absolutely working for the where is the salinity problems, flood situations where is the drought.
But for example in hilly areas, how do we support the hilly areas because lots of people are coming to us or asking the help.
So we are finding that new designs or new even used for the Bhungroo itself.
And I’m telling you that it has the lots of scope in for this technology only so yet we are not thinking about other innovations and further ideas so we are just stick to these ideas how we can make it more efficiency in other geographical region too.
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