Energy


RuKart: Zero-energy Cold-Storage for Small Farmers

The energy landscape has currently some profound challenges (linked to even the long-term survival of humanity) and by the same token equally exciting opportunities.

RuKart: Zero-energy Cold-Storage for Small Farmers (Subjee Cooler)

Problem Description & Solution Approach:

Almost 30% of all flowers, fruits, and vegetables produced are lost – two-thirds at the farm itself – in India. For farmers, storage technologies are too costly, out of reach, and futile.

The penetration of cold storage continues to remain low in India; with the penetration of cold storage, its consistent usage remains as a question.

Acutely aware of the mismatch at the ground level, the team at RuKart developed an affordable, Recurring-Cost-free and green storage technology Subjee Cooler – that requires no electricity or solar power or diesel for its operation.; it needs 20 liters of water per day.

RuKart is founded (bootstrapped) by 4 IIT Bombay alumni in 2019. RuKart focuses on developing scalable green solutions that contribute to poverty eradication (Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 1), affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), and economic growth (SDG 8) locally. Founded in June 2019, RuKart is well supported by founders’ alma mater, IIT Bombay. The 36 month old start-up is working across 10 states in Eastern, Central & Southern India. 

The Subjee Cooler is made up of 7 layers of insulation walls which lowers the inside temperature than the ambient by a margin of 5 – 21°C (Maximum Intraday variation 2.0 – 2.5 °C) and maintains high relative humidity of 85 – 90%. 

The low temperature, high relative humidity, and the low intra-day variation in temperature inside the Subjee Cooler preserve flower/vegetable crops (non-tuber crops) for a short duration: 4 – 6 days and aid farmers in planning their harvest better depending on the maturity level of the produce. 

Subjee Cooler has proven helpful for retailers who deal with Flower/ Fruit/ Mushroom/ Vegetables. 

Business Model:

RuKart operates through a B2B2C mode. The start-up is reaching to its customer segment (farmers < 0.5 acre of Vegetable/ Fruit/ Flower plot & retailers) through district or state-level business partners including organizations working with village-level entrepreneurs.

Further, the overall design & packaging has been done to enable easy dubbing of the audio portion in any language that a remote/rural learner feels comfortable with. 

Initially, the startup started with a brick model of Subjee Cooler and with rigorous field level installations across different geographies along with regular follow-ups with end users, developed portable and mobile model. RuKart developed technologies like Subjee Cooler and PeekRakshak in a participatory approach where the end users were an integral part of design team.

 

Watch the video from the recent Gala Event, Washington DC.

 

Read a 2-Pager.

 

A good short video for product view: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMS4z8huLgI

A 3-min clip with more details: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md74tcRiDjo

A Subjee Cooler Exposure session underway

Achievements to-date

Subjee Coolers have been installed across 11 states in India. The Subjee Cooler has been instrumental in mitigating the distress sale among Vegetable/ Flower/ Fruit growers. Most of them received 30 – 50%+ higher value due to freshness and reduce loss even after 5 days. The Subjee Cooler has been appreciated by development agencies like the “World Bank” & “USAID“. Both agencies have included the Subjee Cooler in their respective projects in India. The World Economic Forum has recognized the “Subjee Cooler” as 1 of 9 Youth-led innovations that are protecting the planet (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/04/9-youth-led-innovations-are-protecting-the-planet).

The center (Govt. of India) has recognized its innovation through its Twitter handle @MyGovIndia for its role in transforming the country.

The bootstrap received initial support from IIT Bombay and NABARD & is profitable since its inception.

Reshma is using Subjee Cooler as Ripening Chamber - Supported by SELCO Foundation. She sells about 40 - 50 Kgs of vegetables and claims to save about Rs. 200 per day due to the Subjee Cooler as the wastage has reduced to almost zero.

Scale of Opportunity

There are a total of about 129 million small and marginal farmers in India. Out of these, about 51 million farmers are cultivating Flower, Fruit, and Vegetables. Along with these 51 million small and marginal cultivators there are about 2.5 million Flower, Fruit, and Vegetables retailers in India who need solutions like Subjee Cooler.

Subjee Cooler – A Green Innovation

One Subjee Cooler saves about 4,500 KG of CO2 per year. This is in comparison with an electricity powered cold room of similar size. This is equivalent to CO2 saving of 16 full grown trees in a year. In a life span of 7 years, one Subjee Cooler saves about COequivalent of 3,211 full grown trees.

WGF leaders providing oversight:

Indrajit Chatterjee, Ratan Agarwal

Call To Action

  • *  Sponsor fresh produce farmers to get RuKart  Subji-Cooler. 
  • * For $1000 you can impact loves of two farmer-retailers  by increasing their monthly income by 30%-40%. 
  • * You can introduce small equipment distributors in your State in India to carry and sell Sabji-Coolers. 
  • * Help Sabji-Cooler with Microfinance programs so farmers can easily pay and buy this.              
  • * Evangelize this wonderful solution for relevant entities to deploy in their regions.
  • * Help further innovate the design and functionality
 

Deployment Updates

I. Shri Satish B. Agnihotri, EX. Secretary, MNRE, GoI, & Prof. Emeritus at IIT Bombay, visited Subjee Cooler at “Center for Excellence in Horticulture” at Deras, Odisha.

II. Excited to share that 2 units of Subjee Coolers are installed at Jaivik Mall, Banasankari, Bengaluru that are helping to keep organic greens and veggies as fresh as the day they were harvested! Read more.

III. 4 Subjee Coolers that are funded by WHEELS Global Foundation for MUKTI have been delivered and capacity-building sessions for the farmers have been conducted by RuKart. The farmers will start using the coolers now and we hope to see the results in a couple of months. Read More

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