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A low cost housing solution for the salt farmers of Kutch
A low cost housing solution for the salt farmers of Kutch

Every summer when there are holidays, parents are concerned about their children, particularly those who are not yet trapped in exam fever.  The college students look for internship, summer school or other activities to build their skills. SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions) has been organizing Summer Schools for last several years to develop devices/solutions for economically poor people through inclusive and open innovation.This year the Summer School is being organized by SRISTI and Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network [GIAN] in collaboration with UNICEF and FAB LAB of National Innovation Foundation [NIF] at the Grambharti campus, Amrapur, from 24 May to 12 June 2017.

Sixty-one student participants from leading Design and Technology Institutes across India have been working for the past couple of weeks on unmet social needs. The maximum number of participants happen to be from IIT-Delhi. This year students from ITIs and Polytechnics have joined in too in a group sponsored by GIAN for addressing the problems of women and tribal communities.The Summer School participants have worked on defining the problem, done prior-art-search, prepared a mind map, been on a field visit to empathise with stakeholders, generated concepts and developed prototypes/solutions. The team have been mentored though their innovation journey by though leaders from leading Universities and professionals from across the globe.

Three group of students spent time with the Agariya salt farmers of Gujarat. The teams are working on developing a tool for effective well digging, mechanism for early detection of toxic gases while digging wells (thus avoiding fatality) and designing temporary shelter for the salt farmers.

Another group of students are addressing the issues faced by the tribals in Udaipur district. A low cost manual oil extraction machine developed by the participants which runs without electricity would help augment the income of tribal women. Another team is designing a low cost refrigeration system to store sitaphal (custard apple). Sitaphal is found in abundance in the region and with the assistance of the Forest department the pulp is supplied to Vadilal for ice-cream flavoring.

Manual cold press oil extractor

Crop Vandalism by Nilgai and wild-boar every year causes huge losses to farmers. A group of four students have developed a passive infrared sensor based solution which will trigger random sounds and flashing LED lights to scare away the animals.

A group of three participants have come with a plough depth sensor to sense the depth of tillage for better yield of crops. Soil profile including moisture content, compactness and texture affects the depth of operation. Farmers using the bullock drawn plough try to maintain the depth of operation based on their experience, however it is very difficult to know the variation until it is too much. This low cost sensor solution will set off an alarm if there is variation in depth of operation. The farmer can accordingly adjust the depth of ploughing.

Another team has designed a smart-phone assisted spectrometer to measure micronutrient level of soil in agricultural fields. Early knowledge of soil nutrient level can significantly help the farmers to use optimum amount of fertilizers on-time to promote growth of crops and save money on unneeded fertilizers.

Smart phone attachment to probe micronutrients in soil
Sensor to detect toxic gases during well digging

Yet another group of students have developed an App for farmers to help control pest and collate information on crop trials. The App named GROWCROP is now live on Google Play store.

The structure of governance in any society cannot remain indifferent to the persistent problems of the disadvantaged people for too long. Eventually, every institution in the country will have to take the responsibility of mapping the unmet social needs in their hinterland and address them through student projects and summer schools. 

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