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Low-cost technology to boost rural economy

Already WBCADC has introduced solar dehydrator machines at a cost of Rs 2.20 lakh per unit at Haldibari and Purulia.

Debajyoti Chakraborty | Kolkata |

The West Bengal Comprehensive Area Development Corporation ( WBCADC), which is under the panchayat and rural development department has tied up with National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) of Hyderabad for introducing innovative low-cost technology to boost the rural economy of the state.

The administrative secretary of the West Bengal Comprehensive Area Development Corporation informed The Statesman that a number of new technologies have been introduced in various districts of the state and within the next two to three months WBCADC will tie up with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur for development of low cost mechanised dhekis (rice pounders) for threshing brown rice.

There has been high demand of brown rice in the market for its higher food and nutrition values compared to white rice. Also, rice pounders are making a comeback throughout India as the rice grains retain more health benefits.

“All these are pilot projects undertaken by WBCADC and so far has been highly successful,” the official added.

Already WBCADC has introduced solar dehydrator machines at a cost of Rs 2.20 lakh per unit at Haldibari and Purulia.

In West Bengal, around 20 per cent of all agricultural products go waste due to lack of proper preservation facilities. The solar dehydrators are kept in shed houses where the solar energy is collected through conclave mirror. Vegetables such as chilli, onion, tomato, turmeric, peas, garlic etc are dehydrated naturally to be ground into powder.

Women SHG have been marketing these organic dry spice powders in packets through their own marketing channels and networks which are seeing very high demand.

Earlier, in Purulia excess tomato production used to go rotten, so also the famous chillies of Haldibari. Solar dehydration plants have now been set up in Tamluk,Siliguri, Debra, Haringhata and Ayodhya Hills in Purulia.

Mini Ice Plants and insulated solar cool box have also been developed at a cost of Rs 2.40 lakhs each which have been effective for preserving vegetables, fish and fish based food items at Siliguri, Naxalbari,Haringhata, Tamluk, Deganga, Kurseong, Jhaldah, Murguma Dam in Purulia, Tamluk etc

Thirdly, portable soil and water testing kits have also been distributed for fish cultivation. The fishermen can use the kits to find out the alkalinity and salinity of the water and nitrogen and potassium contents of the soil for pisciculture and this technology will help them to cultivate fish scientifically as they will be aware of all the vital parameters of the soil and water of the water bodies.

The low-cost soil and water kits cost Rs.32,000 only and have been distributed in Kaliaganj, Saharjore and Purulia. Also, the farmers face a lot of problems in making seed beds due to space constraints in the rural areas. Hand-made seed-bed technology developed in local backyards has come to their rescue.