India produces a mind-boggling 2 crore metric tons of onions annually. An estimated 70% of this produce is stored in warehouses for 6-8 months. Unfortunately, incorrect storage practices lead to a whopping 30-40% wastage due to the crop’s physiological weight loss, sprouting, and rotting.
Born and brought up in Lasalgaon, home to Asia’s largest onion market, Kalyani Shinde wanted to address these challenges faced by thousands of farmers across India. Coming from a farming background, her first-hand knowledge and understanding of the problem led her to work towards designing a solution during her college days. She started her entrepreneurial journey by setting up Godaam Innovations, a social enterprise that has developed a viable technology-based solution to enable farmers to monitor crop health and ensure timely market distribution.
Seeing the potential in her idea, Digital Impact Square based in Nashik provided her with a team to further develop and execute her solution. For the last 2 years, Kalyani has been working at refining her model to implement it in warehouses especially focussing on reducing rotting and physiological weight loss of onions.
Converting Traditional Warehouses into Smart Warehouses
A computer engineer by qualification, Kalyani leveraged her skills to develop an IoT-based device that enables real-time climate monitoring, identifies early wastage in warehouses, and alerts the farmer based on the analyzed data.
“We entered the market with the notion that there would be resistance from the farmers to adopt any technology. However, farmers want technology. They understand the value, however, it is important to design according to their needs and build to exactly address those challenges.” shares Kalyani
Traditionally, farmers identified rotting by the distinct smell of onions. However, at this stage, the crop is already 30% damaged. The onion industry also lacks accountability as the Government is unaware of the quality or quantity of the produce available on-ground. This wastage results in higher prices for consumers while the demand is ever increasing. With the help of Godaam’s technology, a farmer can now identify rotting as low as 4% that enables them to reduce wastage and sell the crop quickly in the market. A farmer who incurred a crop wastage of around 20-25%, will now lose only 5% of the stored crop.
Designing the Future of Storage
Within a year of its inception, Godaam already works with 3 farmer warehouses as a pilot with the Directorate Of Onion And Garlic Research, Nashik. In the coming months, Kalyani and her team will launch their operations with 10 other farmer warehouses and a community warehouse owned by a local Farmer Producer Company. The next big step for Kalyani lies in her collaboration with Tata Steel and Sahyadri Farms. Together, they are creating ‘smart community warehouses’ to reduce wastage of stored produce.
“We are working on designing future storage facilities. If the current onion waste reduction is 40%, we want to bring it down to 5%” says Kalyani
Right from design & structure to protocols of storage, micro-climatic conditions and material, Kalyani and her team are focussing on optimizing onion storage with minimal or no wastage. They are going to focus on the onion market for the next 3-4 years before taking their technology to address the challenges in other markets such as poultry. Kalyani is dedicated to solving most of the challenges faced by the onion industry – before & after harvest, converting waste to revenue, establishing a circular economy for sustainability and reduced environmental impact.
For a country whose millions of residents depend on onions for their everyday nutrition, Kalyani and her team’s efforts are going to go a long way in ensuring a dependable supply.
Know more about Godaam Innovation’s work or reach out to them here.