Mumbai school students undertake crowdfunding to help Marathwada farmers set up storage facility

A group of 55 Class 10 students of city school have started a crowdfunding initiative to help small farmers in Marathwada set up a basic brick and mortar storage facility, designed by a startup from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. The storage facility will help farmers store their produce for up to a week and overcome the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The students, all from the Bombay Scottish School in Mahim, set out to raise around Rs 16 lakh that can help over 100 farmers in Marathwada to set up the Subjee Cooler, a cooling unit designed by Rukart Technologies. While a unit can be set up at Rs 30,000, many farmers do not have the funds at their disposal owing to the effects of the lockdown on the markets, said Vikas Jha, founder of Rukart.

“If we could find finance for half the price, farmers were willing to pay the other half,” he added.

The students found out about the plight of the farmers during a workshop at school with crowd-funding platform—Fuel a Dream. Each student then decided to raise Rs 30,000 to be able to help two farmers set up Subjee Coolers. However, many students have already exceeded their goals and the funds will be used to help more farmers. “I honestly went into the campaign thinking I’d barely touch the goal of Rs 30000 and I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I’m currently at Rs 1,29,100. The first day, I texted and called close friends and relatives about the campaign,” said 14-year-old Auroni Gupta, who claimed that most contributions came through social media. So far the students have raised Rs13.87 lakh.

The Subjee Cooler works on the principle of evaporative cooling and does not require any utilities except watering once a day.

According to Jha, the cooling chamber temperature is lesser than the ambient temperature by a margin of 5-15°C (depends on ambient relative humidity) and maintains the high relative humidity of above 85% – 90% inside the cooling chamber. The low temperature and high humidity inside the chamber preserve the vegetable crop (non-tuber) for five to eight days.

“Rukart and a Pune-based non-profit Swayam Sikashan Prayog, got in touch with us about the farmers in Marathwada. We have been doing workshops with students across the country and the students at Bombay Scottish showed interest. That’s how the initiative took off,” said Ranganath Thota, founder of Fuel a Dream, who teaches crowdfunding as a skill to school students.

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