Author – Swati Agrawal
Problem – Perennial power disruption
Consider this fact, the poultry sector in India has an estimated turnover of INR550 billion and generates direct and indirect employment for 6.2 million people! Further, India contributes to 1.64 billion chickens to the global production of 50 billion chickens annually. This makes our country the fifth largest producer of poultry eggs and the ninth largest producer of chickens. It seems pretty obvious and rational that these poultry farms would be studded with high performing egg incubators, to hatch chicks consistently and to maintain their production. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
A large number of chicken hatcheries in India are located in rural hinterlands or remote villages and sadly, these are the parts that face an acute shortage of power. Plagued by rampant power cuts, a typical Indian village where a farmer has no alternative occupation, results in a massive loss of productive time and valuable income. Erratic power supply disturbs the hatching cycle leading to reduction in success rate to less than 50%. Further, the incubation period is substantially extended and most often, if the temperature fluctuates from the ideal 37-38˚C, embryos would be crippled or some of these eggs don’t hatch at all.
These challenges compound the problems of an average Indian poultry farmer who has to deal with inconsistent supply of electricity. With 6-8 hours of power cut, hatching in rural areas is reduced to 50%.
Solution – Pioneering Swapnil Kakote
Armed with a sparklingly innovative green idea, Swapnil Kakote from Parbhani, Maharashtra has come to the rescue of these poultry farmers with his Electricity Free Egg Incubator (EFEI) or ‘Eggubator’ for short. Being a graduate in polymer engineering from Institute of Chemical Technology, (ICT), Mumbai, Swapnil was inspired to design an egg incubator after talking to his friend’s father, who was a poultry farmer suffering from frequent power cuts.
The conceptualization of Swapnil’s innovation is simple yet unique. His Eggubator model utilizes thermal power in the form of a heat-humidity storage box to maintain the temperature of the incubator at 37-38˚C and a relative humidity of around 60% to 85%. These are the ideal conditions that have to be maintained for 21 days for chicken egg incubation.
The machines costs only INR25,000 for incubating 400 eggs, which is eight times lesser than the conventional electric incubator. Since his Eggubator is electricity free, its operating cost is also reduced to 20% with just INR500 spent for 21 days. Due to the machine simple design, problems associated with shortage of electric components, refined circuitry and supply of electricity are automatically taken care of. So ultimately there is an increased rate of egg hatching with a reduction in the number of dead-in-shell chickens.
|Phase Change Material (PCM)||It is a latent heat storage unit. It can absorb and store large amount of energy during its transition from solid to liquid and vice versa. They help in maintaining temperature in the system|
|Saturated Salt Solution||They are used for balancing humidity in the system by lowering the vapor pressure|
|3 V battery / Natural convection heat flow of air||It is used to maintain the oxygen concentration uniformly|
Positive impact of Eggubator
- The economic impact of Swapnil Kakote’s eco-friendly innovation is apparent in terms of money spent per egg. The added perks that the incubator ensures are hassle-free set-up without any use of sophisticated machinery as well as minimal fixed expenditure. It also promises low maintenance as well as operational costs.
- Apart from the explicit monetary benefits that accrue to poultry farmers, the electricity-free egg incubator also offers many implicit benefits to the society. It allows village women to start their own small scale egg incubating business and create a sustainable livelihood. Ushering and promoting a culture of self- sustenance, the innovation is sure to gain strong foothold in the social market. Further, since the set-up does not require constant monitoring, farmers have free time to engage in alternative occupations.
- Considering the current power crisis in India, frugality is being insisted upon in electricity consumption. Although, the Eggubator was not aimed at conserving electricity, ends up ensuring that too! Further, talking about indigenous technology and utilizing local resources, this innovation comes in at the right time where it is capable of being built entirely through locally available material such as thermosets and other insulating materials such as cardboard and hay.
The Eggubator technology comes with a disadvantage, though. The number of eggs hatched in a cycle of incubation is considerably lower as compared to the conventional method. While the chamber of a large electric incubator can house numerous eggs and churn out chicks on a conveyer belt once an incubation cycle is complete, the Eggubator has a relatively smaller chamber and since evaluating the health of the chicks is manual, makes the processing much slower.
The Economic Model
Swapnil Kokate proposes a self-sustained financial model to commercialize and propagate the idea. Currently, one installment of the model is being tried with one rural egg incubator for pilot testing of the idea. With the integration of a social enterprise that will train one rural egg incubator unit from each village, Swapnil asserts awareness regarding Eggubator will percolate down to the poorest of poultry farmers in the village.
This rural egg incubator unit will then be provided with proper training and required skills to develop and deliver Eggubator in the community. Once a substantial number of egg incubators have been trained, the Eggubator could be made locally made and distributed. This creates opportunities of revenue that could be divided between the social enterprise and the rural egg incubator. In such a model, the village entrepreneur becomes an ambassador of social enterprise.
So overall this remarkable innovation’s USP – positively affecting the ecosystem and its resources, as well as impacting the state of rural empowerment for the better! No wonder, the young lad’s creation has won him the prestigious Bayer Young Environmental Envoy award, 2012. The BYEE award program supports and encourages young students who are actively involved in hands-on environmental projects.