How a rural entrepreneur used solar power to green his innovation
When Haryana farmer Dharambir Kamboj returned to his village of Damla after an accident during his rickshaw days in Delhi, he had no idea that his penchant for inventions would lead him to technological innovation of his own.
In 2017, the 59-year-old entrepreneur turned his invention into a business, Dharambir Food Processing Pvt Ltd., which he now runs with his 31-year-old son and has a turnover of over one million rupees. “Since childhood, I had an interest in inventing machinery and when I visited farmers in Ajmer who used makeshift methods to process food, I saw the potential of a food processor machine that would crush, pulp, deseed and extract juice.”
And that’s what he then designed – a food processor that, in addition to the usual functions, mixes, pulverizes, steams and cooks under pressure. The machine has the ability to process fruits, vegetables, seeds, herbs and flowers, which also makes it capable of extracting oil, gel and essential oil. The machine was then patented and validated by the National Foundation for Innovation.
Although Kamboj was getting good orders for its machine, the story turned into clean technology, when the company was selected along with five other companies for grants by the Villgro Innovations Foundation and the Energy Council, Environment and Water (CEEW) in 2020, as part of their Powering Livelihoods program aimed at boosting “India’s rural economy by increasing the penetration of clean energy-powered appliances for the means of subsistence”.
“It was their idea (Villgro and CEEW) and adapting the machine to run on solar energy was not so difficult. When I was working on making it a hybrid model that could run on solar power, batteries, a generator, or electricity, I kept wondering why I hadn’t thought of that before,” says Kamboj, grateful to the organizations for pushing him towards this. Today, that earns him accolades as well as export orders from Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Nairobi, and could even turn into selling technology in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Kamboj says the big fish always try to eat the little fish, and several big companies have offered to buy him out. However, he and his son want to grow the business independently and by manufacturing the machine close to the village, they provide jobs and livelihoods for many people.
Kamboj manufactures machines in several sizes for different pockets. The smallest one processes around 40 kg in an hour and costs ₹60,000, while the larger machines can process 200 kg per hour and cost ₹2 lakh. His son Prince, who virtually runs the business, says the switch to solar power has resulted in huge electricity savings and more interest from different parts of the world.
July 10, 2022