An Institute of its kind ...ARTI Pune

Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI) was set up in 1996 under the leadership of Dr. A. D. Karve. Its a Maharashtra based NGO founded by scientists and social workers with the objective of  sustainable rural development by implementing scientific and technological knowledge. To start with ARTI undertook 9 different projects at various stages of completion. To make the rural business profitable, ARTI undertakes research, and after successful implementation commercialises it and popularise the product. This also gives a decent employment opportunity for people in  rural areas.  Throught REDC (Rural Entrepreneurship Development Centre) these technologies are offered to rural entrepreneurs after standardization and field testing. Although the institute was started in Maharashtra, within no time the reach of this institute has crossed borders and the projects are now even implemented in various rural areas of other states like UP, HP, MP, Goa, Karnataka etc.  Some projects have even crossed national borders and  are beint tried in other developing countries. With time it has started getting global recognition.

The Project:
Amongst the various projects undertaken the project which is of utmost importance is of 'Addressing Indoor Air Pollution'. In India almost 50000 women and children die annually due to health problems resulting from Indoor Air Pollution. Due to poverty and lack of access to modern fossil fuels like LPG, kerosene they depend on the local supply of free / cheap biofuel. Due to the usage of the traditional fuel and the traditional burning techniques they get exposed to many ill effects of usage of these biofuels which ultimately leads to their death. To overcome this ARTI undertook a pilot project which was partly funded by Shell Foundation of UK.

Clean biomass cooking products were designed which were used by ARTI for the pilot test. To start with ARTI tested these products in various regions of Maharashtra with the help of 10 NGOs. The product was market tested and parallely the potential entrepreneurs were given technical and entrepreneurial training. At the end of the project 120 active enterprises were set and in total they sold 75000 units of the product. ARTI, keeping the mind the commercial approach realized the market potential to be huge of approx. 20 million customers in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. A separate team is assigned a task of studying the impact of these products to reduce the indoor air pollution.

For the scale up project ARTI has set of target of reaching 15,00,000 households in Maharashtra and around 50,000 households in Gujarat. To execute this targets ARTI is going to carry on this work with other NGOs and local enterprises. ARTI will provide the support to these entreprises for training and marketing campaign to be conducted during the start up stage. ARTI is aware that the basic marketing campaign needs to speak about the Indoor Air Pollution and its hazards. For execution, ARTI has established a private limited company, titled Samuchit Enviro-Tech Pvt. Ltd. (SET). The objective of SET is re-establishment of rural entrepreneurship based on appropriate technology. The current focus of SET's business is on biomass fueled cooking devices and clean burning biomass based fuels for rural  households in India particularly Maharashtra and Gujarat. and the entire developing world, in general. Based on a field study conducted by ARTI, the products reduce indoor air pollution by about 30% or more. Combined with energy saving cooking practices, it is possible to reduce the fuel consumption by about 50-70% by using these products. The product portfolio of ARTI constitutes of Compact Biogas System, Charcoaling technology set, Char briquettes, Sarai Cooking system and Vivek stove. Amongst all the products the one which is making a buzz in rural markets is Sarai Cooking System.

The Sarai Cooking System

ARTI has developed Sarai Cooking System which uses char briquettes as fuel. To make the machine robust and safe a stainless steel body is used which has a charcoal brazier inside the body. A very small amount of fuel (approx. 100 - 150 gms) of coal briquettes is needed to cook one batch of food. The vessel has 3 pots which can be used to cook 3 different items at the same time. There is no need for personal attention once the fire is turned on. It takes approx. an hour's time to completely cook the food inside it. In this hour's time the char briquettes burn completely and the fire goes off by itself. If unopened the food inside remains warm for almost 2 hours. The price of the product ranges from Rs. 400 to Rs. 1000. The selling USP for this product is the ease of convenience and low operational cost. The biggest market for these cookers right now is in and around Pune. 5000 odd families use this cooking system for daily cooking purposes which has increased the consumption of the char briquettes to 5 tonnes per month

ARTI is very clear with the customer segementation and the products to be targeted to various sections of the society. ARTI has used the economy and the location as the broad parameters to segment the market. Their main target market is rural to semi urban areas with middle class families. Vivek stove is already accepted as supplementary stove by the middle to high income households in rural and semi-urban areas. Specialized products like Sarai cooker and compact biogas system are targeted at middle to high income rural, semi-urban and urban households.

Challenges Ahead:

This is the most crucial time for ARTI as they are seeking funding assistance for period of next 4 to 5 years to ensure sustainability of this business model.The total budget estimated for the scale up project is approximately USD 900,000 covering all the costs.  The costs include salaries, administration costs, travel, promotion, publicity, marketing, training, research, quality testing, documentation, reporting etc. SET would require a working capital of about USD 600,000 per year to ensure profitability and sustainability of the network.

Dr. Priyadarshni Karve, Director of Samuchit knows that she needs an external source of  fund to further scale up. She says "It would drive the entire process, and be in charge of manufacturing and distribution." During the pilot project this project god an aid of Rs. 50 lakhs from Shell Foundation. In 2008 - 09, Samuchit posted a turnover of Rs. 75 lakhs showing a profit of Rs. 9 lakhs by selling 10000 units of Sarai Cooker. Shell Foundation was expecting better figures. Anuradha Bhavani, Regional Director of Shell Foundation, says, "We were expecting a large market delivery, but there have been challenges." Since then the funds from Shell Foundation has run out. Some enterprises have been successful to get loans from banks for sustaining their business while some are supported by revolving funds. Still to have the right working capital SET needs some external funds. Currently the daily expenses are taken care of bythe personal fund of Rs. 10 lakhs from the directors. It seeks capacity and sales of 20000 units for which it needs additional capital of Rs. 10 lakhs. This fact worries Ms. Karve. She adds "Expansion is not possible unless funding comes in".

Personally speaking this is a very noble cause undertaken by ARTI and its profit making arm SET. It integrates science and technology to improve the lifestyle of the poor people living in the rural and semi urban areas of the country. One should not forget that, according to the 2001 Indian census, there are 638,365 villages in India and about 74% of Indian population lives in these villages, which is really a huge chunk of our total population. And to introduce environment friendly products at such a cheap price for betterment of the people in these areas is really a noble cause. Its not only about the lifestyles but also it provides a huge employment opportunity for people residing there.

'Where there is a will, there is a way.....'. With this saying in mind I am hoping that this project will see the light of the day by managing to get the required funds.

ARTI is accepting the funds for these projects. For making the donations and learning more about ARTI, please visit

Article By - Pranav Joshi
An Institute of its kind ...ARTI Pune An Institute of its kind ...ARTI Pune Reviewed by Salil Chaudhary on 09:43 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.