When the President of India wanted to discover best practices in innovations, his experts scoured the land. It’s not surprising that Naireeta Services’ “bhungroo invention” was front and center. Biplab Ketan Paul, a director of the company along with his wife, Trupti Jahn, the founder and CEO, were recognized by the government for the company’s pioneering efforts on behalf of smallholder farmers.
“Honestly speaking, I was very, very nervous—but honored—to present our work to President Shri Ram Nath Kovind,” said Biplab, who discovered the virtues of the bhungroo pipe almost by accident. The hollow tube itself is a rather simple instrument, alternatively used by women in poorer regions to keep cooking fires lit. Biplab saw it as an excellent apparatus to draw water from the ground.
After an earthquake impacting Western India, Biplab quickly understood that the disaster that had created a water emergency and the farmers’ livelihood were entwined. Biplab spotted a little girl in a four-foot deep hole in a dry pond bed. She was gathering up salty water that had seeped to the surface, providing her family with drinking water.
What can I say? This year for Naireeta Services has started out with a bang.
He had an idea. There was water available, and one needed only to reach it following the monsoon periods, and store it for the dry season. Hence, his hollow tube invention that has impacted thousands of farmers. If we could store the rainwater and pump it out in the dry season for irrigation, two problems could be solved, Biplab figured. In fact, farmers would be able to have two cropping seasons.
Biplab, an economist by training who specializes in water resource issues, had developed an ingenious product that could be exported to similar areas with water issues.
“Now we have created different designs of the bhungroo for areas impacted by flooding which have erratic water availability—not only for the farmer but also industrial companies, stadiums and even golf courses,” said Biplab.
Naireeta Services has been an important fund and technical assistance recipient from the Securing Water for Food (SWFF) program, which is backed by USAID and the governments of South Africa, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
The icing on the cake earlier this year, though, was the invitation to the Presidential Palace to show off what the Naireeta team had accomplished for India. There had been various hurdles and peer group reviews to reach this honored status in the water services arena, among the other honorees in health, education, and culture. Naireeta was the only one chosen in the water category across India.
“It was a rigorous process throughout the year with the government sending teams to evaluate the project and talk with the beneficiaries of our innovation,” said Biplab. “The President was keen to identify the best work over the last five years.”
Biplab added that the President wanted to know the extent of the benefits to the poorest communities of India, what impact it can have in flooded areas, and even how it helps prevent the suicide of farmers who despair when they haven’t been successful. This all goes well with Biplab’s philosophy, which was one of modern India founder Mahatma Gandhi’s basic principles of serving the last person in the queue in the best way possible.
For the event at the Presidential Palace, Biplab took his daughter Naireeta. “Trupti and I decided together. Naireeta is young, and she will remember this time throughout her life.” What was the President’s response after the presentation?
“He said tell me what support you need from my position,” said Biplab. “What can I say? This year for Naireeta Services has started out with a bang.”
USAID, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Governments of The Netherlands and South Africa invested $34 million in Securing Water for Food (SWFF) to promote science and technology solutions that enable the production of more food with less water and/or make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution.
This story was developed through the SWFF Social Impact Storytelling Initiative which was established to document innovator journeys and social impact as they work to improve the way water is being used for agriculture. #socialimpact #innovation #agriculture #water