Decentralized Renewable Energies not only help bring clean energy to remote corners, but also bridge gender inequalities and increase employment opportunities in various parts of the world. The story of S4S Technologies is one such instance where solar conduction dryers are empowering rural women in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. Ecoideaz brings you this story in association with CLEAN (a network of DRE Enterprises in India).
Forty-five-year-old Dhurpadaa Shevare always craved for a fulfilling life. Born into a poor family in the remote village of Vadala–Vadali in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra meant that she’d have to brave challenges right from her childhood.
The last time Dhurpadaa ever went to her school was when she was in Class 2. Inability to pay for her schooling compelled her parents to take her out of school. A few years later, Dhurpadaa became a bride. An early marriage led to an early motherhood and she bore four children, two sons and two daughters. In their best days, she and her husband toiled hard in the farms to provide for their children. Combined, they could only make a meager INR3,000 per month if they had a good season (4 months in a year). Their children grew up fast. Soon they were married and moved out to start their own families.
At a relatively young age of 45, Dhurpadaa was already a grandmother to a 17-year old boy. All these developments exhausted her physically and mentally. Just as her dream of a stable life was starting to drift away, she crossed paths with Science for Society (S4S).
S4S Technologies is an innovation and research-based enterprise that focuses on developing sustainable technologies for both industries and commoners. Its initiatives are consciously focused on supporting women to enable them to become self-sufficient. Therefore, when S4S reached out to Dhrupadaa and 29 other women in Jalgaon with their flagship product – a solar conduction dryer, life was about to change drastically for them.
India loses around 66 million tons of fruits and vegetables every year. S4S Technologies, through their innovative interventions such as the solar conduction dryer, processes fruits and vegetables at the farm level, thereby mitigating their wastage. After getting educated about the food dehydration process and the immense opportunities associated with it, the proposition of becoming a micro-entrepreneur with S4S sounded too good to be true for Dhrupadaa and her peers. Taking a leap of faith, all thirty women joined forces with S4S.
As part of the journey, these women in Vadala–Vadali were trained on safety and hygiene, time management, food safety protocol and other Standard Operating Procedures for onion and ginger dehydration.
Gradually, as Dhrupadaa got a hang of things, she started drying a daily input of 45-90 kg of fresh raw material. This, in turn, led to an output of 10-12 kg dried ginger flakes per day. The training helped her to produce good quality output with improved potency for consumption. Most of all, it was financially rewarding.
With her newly acquired skills, Dhrupandaa was now able to make INR5,000 per month, something that had seemed beyond her reach her whole life. This opportunity gave Dhrupadaa and her husband renewed zeal to live an independent life together. Today, S4S Technologies have already benefitted more than 1000 farmers across 6 countries with their sustainable technology.