“The Vital FEW (Food, Energy, Water) are critical to our survival as a human race and much of the life that surrounds us. We need to innovate with environmental intelligence and use materials that have the potential to be upcycled at their end of life as a primary component to achieve sustainable methods of development, consumption, and reuse. Our portfolio is focused on market-based innovations in these most basic needs (Food, Water, Energy) of the humanity that not only provides resilient and affordable solutions but also have built-in utilization efficiencies.”
RuKart is a classic story of a team of young innovators growing up with the problem and then taking up the challenge to find a solution so it is no longer a problem for all the families like theirs. RuKart’s Founder & CEO, Vikas Jha grew up in a small farmer family and saw firsthand how nearly 30%-40% of fresh produce (vegetables and fruits) would go waste on daily basis because the family could not afford expensive large freezers to store them for extended life. Further, in his rural region, the supply of electricity was inconsistent at best, with frequent blackouts and limited availability hours every day. After finishing his Masters in Technology in 2016 from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, he spent further two years as a Research Engineer investigating the problem further, and then launched RuKart to introduce the innovative Cold-Storage solution requiring no electricity or energy at all – a tailor made solution for small farmer families like his and contributing to nearly 80% of India’s fresh produce production, i.e., more than 15 million farmers. In his journey, Vikas has been joined by his two co-founders who share the similar backgrounds, aspirations and passion: Gunavant Nehete (IIT Bombay graduate of 2009) and Sharayu Kulkarni (IIT Bombay graduate of 2016).
RuKart- Brief Introduction
Description and Compelling Attributes
Almost 30% of all flowers. fruits and vegetables produced in India are lost – two-third of that at the farm itself. For small farmers, storage technologies are too costly and futile in the face of inconsistent electricity supply. The penetration of cold storage continues to remain low in India. Acutely aware of the mismatch at the ground level, the team at RuKart developed an affordable, recurring-cost free & green storage technology Subjee Cooler – that requires no electricity or solar power or diesel for its operation. It just needs 20 liters of water per day.
The Subjee Cooler is made up of 7 layers of insulation walls which lowers the inside temperature relative to the ambient temperature by a margin of 5 – 21°C (maximum intraday variation 2.0 – 2.5° C) and maintains high relative humidity of 85 – 90%.
The low temperature, high relative humidity, and the low intra-day variation in inside temperature preserve flower/vegetable crop (non-tuber crops) for short duration: 4 – 6 days and aid farmers in planning their harvest better depending on maturity level of the produce. Subjee Cooler has also proven very valuable to retailers who sells flowers, fruits, mushroom, and vegetables.
RuKart distribution is ideal through a B2B2C model, enabling enough incentives to channel partners serving widely distributed small farmers.
Subjee Coolers have been installed across 11 states in India. The Subjee Cooler has been instrumental in mitigating the distress sale among growers and retailers. Most of them received 30 – 50%+ higher value due to freshness and reduce loss even after 5 days. The Subjee Cooler has been appreciated by development agencies like the “World Bank” & “USAID“. Both agencies have included the Subjee Cooler in their respective projects in India.
The World Economic Forum has recognized the “Subjee Cooler” as 1 of 9 Youth-led innovations that are protecting the planet (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/04/9-youth-led-innovations-are-protecting-the-planet).
Solution requires materials that are easy to find or source in most places in the world. Further the manufacturing process is easy to learn and implement. RuKart is vision is to take the technology to all parts of world with similar challenges – inconsistent or high-cost electricity, unaffordable large cold storage containers, remote locations, and low incomes. With end-user payback of under four-months, it is a solution that stands to help millions of small farmers and fresh-produce retailers in every part of the world.
Imagine a world where no fresh produce is wasted and small-farmers (the backbone of small rural agri-communities) are able to have full value of their hard labor. And where we are able to solve tough challenges without relying on external energy source of any type (electricity or solar or diesel). We invite you to embrace simple but powerful innovation RuKart represents towards that journey of energy & economic independence and sustainability.
We invite ALL who wants to solve clean-water-crisis in entire continent of Africa, big parts of Asia and Americas to embrace and scale a solution now, and not wait for another decade. When there is a solution that does not need to depend upon donations or government support, and which is affordable to BOP segment, let us not waste another day.