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Harvesting value from crop and forest residues

Delhi, India
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Vidyut Mohan
1 year ago


After harvest, many crops produce residues on the farm that cannot be used as mulch or animal feed. The presence of these residues can often impede the growth of the next crop. Farmers typically only have a short window of at most 15 days to clear the residues such as rice straw or maize husks in order to begin preparing the land for the next planting.
So far, the fastest and cheapest way to address residue removal is simply by setting it on fire in the field, which is...

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So far, the fastest and cheapest way for farmers to address farm residue removal, such as coconut shells or rice straw, is simply by setting it on fire in the field, which is widely practiced in many emerging economies such as India. However, burning residues has been attributed to air pollution that affects the respiratory health not only of the local farming communities, but also of nearby urban centres Subramanian, 2016 . Recent studies have estimated that this leads to as many as 1 in 8 deaths in countries such as India, and reduces the affected population’s life expectancy by around 5.3 years Balakrishnan et al., 2018 . Furthermore, many units that produce dried agricultural products like copra, spices, fruits etc, rely either on sun drying lowers productivity or external fuels inputs lowers margin Mohan, 2018 . However, from the perspective of farmers, there is no feasible alternative to open-air residue burning. The reality is that crop residues are loose, wet, bulky, and geographically distributed, which make them very costly more than $15/acre to collect and transport, either to a disposal site or to a centralized facility for subsequent conversion into fuel, fertilizer, or other chemicals. Takachar has identified these market gaps, and is developing technology that can productively upgrade waste crop residues into a carbon rich form, which makes it a suitable raw material to make activated carbon. Furthermore, the waste heat from the process can up used to dry agricultural produce faster, without expending fuel, increasing the production capacity as well as production volumes. In India, around 40 million farmers regularly plant crop varieties that yield in-field residues after harvest without immediate economic benefit. In the world, there are about 170 million similar farmers. In total, there are around 400 million tons/year of crop-related residues being wasted worldwide. Assuming that a Rs 1100/ton value could be created out of these residues rather than being burned, consistent with residue prices in proximity to industrial boilers, this could mean an additional income opportunity of around INR 45 crore/year for these farmers. We assess through our projections that we if we are able to sell 150 systems by 2024 in India, we would have tapped a total market worth INR 45 crore/year with the activated carbon production industry by providing them at 40 percent lower cost and feedstock diversification encouraging circular economy.

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Delhi, India

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Harvesting value from crop and forest residues

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