Akshay Shrivastav grew up watching his father, a farmer in Uttar Pradesh’s Kushinagar district, struggle with a variety of difficulties such as poor irrigation infrastructure, rising production costs, and ineffective fertilisers, to name a few.
According to Akshay, excessive use of chemical fertilisers reduces agriculture output and pollutes the ecosystem. Because water retention capacity is lowered, soil quality deteriorates, resulting in excessive demands.
“I pursued chemical engineering to gain a deeper understanding of the subject and identify solutions for improvement of agricultural yields,” he says in reports. “My father’s experiences on his farm made me want to do something to help the community.”
For this, the 23-year-old created a biofertiliser that he claims can boost agricultural yield by 35%, benefiting over 3,000 farmers in India.
In the midst of an uncertain future
During his second year of college, Akshay began his research. “The college teachers and my family provided me with technical and financial assistance. I travelled to numerous institutes across Uttar Pradesh, including the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), to complete my prototype due to a lack of suitable facilities in college. During my vacations, I also interned to help build the product,” he says. In order to understand how he could commercialise his invention, he also addressed the sugar and alcohol companies.
The COVID-19 pandemic occurred as he neared the end of his senior year. In such precarious times, Akshay was forced to choose between his dream and giving up on it in order to find work. “The situation was frustrating, owing to the economic instability in the market. I came to a dead-end after all the progress I’d made over the years,” he recalls.
Finally, Akshay decided on his dream project. “I kept pushing myself to keep going.” I produced a market-ready biofertiliser employing 60 different bacteria in August 2020.”
“These bacteria can boost the concentration of nine different nutrients, including potassium, nitrogen, zinc, and carbon.” I made 2 kilogrammes of the product and sent half to the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for lab testing and the other half to the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for ground trials. “The results were excellent, and crop productivity increased,” he says.
Akshay also created an extremely absorbent granule that can store 300 times its weight in water and slowly release it. “It also contains nanoparticles that hasten the degradation of biomass and boost microbial activity in the soil.” “According to the NABL report, the combination enhances crop output by 15% to 40%, depending on the variety, and reduces irrigation needs by 33%,” he says.
He founded LCB Fertilizers in March 2021 to commercialise this biofertilizer under the brand name Navyakosh.
Following the publication of his work in a newspaper, Akshay began receiving orders from farmers all over the country. “At first, I had orders from 350 farms in 150 cities.” “I sought for funds from various government startup funding initiatives, like Capri Foundation and Startup India, to set up a manufacturing unit as a result of the response,” he adds.
Farming made simple
Amrinder Singh, a farmer in Sitapur, says a friend recommended Akshay’s biofertiliser to him. “I had been dependent on chemical fertilisers such as urea and DTP for years.” He continues, “I tried Navyakosh for one crop cycle to grow veggies.”
Amrinder claims that the fertilisers increased his productivity by 40%. “Previously, I would spend Rs 3,500 on crops every bigha of land.” The production cost was lowered to Rs 1,200 as a result of this. Diseases were less likely to affect the crops. “I’ve profited from the overall reduction in production costs and increase in yield,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Akshay claims that his company has made Rs 10 lakh in nine months and that he is trying to keep up with the growing demand for his products. “I have a 10 tonne production capacity and receive orders for 25 tonne each month.” As the number of beneficiaries grows dramatically, I want to increase my production to 60 tonnes in the future months,” he says.
“Earning money comes second. My priority is to provide effective and targeted solutions to farmers. I will formulate more products in future that benefit farmers at large,” he says.
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Article inspired by TheBetterIndia.