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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

Amitabha Sadangi

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

International Development Enterprises (India) hereinafter referred to as “IDEI” is a not-for-profit development organization which has demonstrated its commitment to identifying, designing, developing and disseminating affordable small plot irrigation technologies to the poor smallholder farm families in India. Each technology is designed to be one-fifth the cost of its competitors, scaled down to fit one-tenth of a hectare plots, and popular enough to generate sales of at least one million units at an unsubsidized fair market price. For example, smallholder farm families in India have now purchased half a million IDEI Treadle Pump, investing US$ 12.50 Million of their own funds and earning a net income over US$ 189 Million on their investment.

A major breakthrough in low cost drip irrigation came with KB Drip, which has flat lateral tubing. Micro-tubes are used as emitters to provide a fairly high level of emission uniformity from KB Drip tubing. KB Drip differs from commercial state-of-the-art drip irrigation systems in a variety of ways. However, the majority of smallholders in India, owns less than one hectares of land, are deprived of this amazing technology because of its un-affordability. KB Drip is significantly lower in cost, available in small packages, operates at very low pressures, and is easier to understand and operate. It does not require a high initial investment, which removes a main entry barrier for smallholder farmers trying to adopt drip irrigation. KB Drip systems in India sell for one-fifth the conventional systems and range from a price of one dollar for a 20-square-metre kitchen garden kit, to a $160 for a one acre system. Like the Treadle pump, these systems earn a net profit of 100 to 400 percent per year on the purchase price.

Farmers apply 60-70 percent less water compared to the traditional surface irrigation systems allowing for irrigation of more crop area per unit of water used. The slow and regular application of water maintains optimum moisture at the root zone, which improves plant quality and yield. Less labor is required for irrigation, weeding, and fertilizer application compared to traditional methods as well. Water-soluble fertilizers can be injected through the drip system resulting in lower fertilizer costs and reducing negative environmental impacts.

There is a very high adoption curve and demand for this system among farmers in Semi Arid Regions of India. KB Drip holds great promise not only for diffusion throughout India, but for many other parts of the world, particularly in Africa where production costs for drip technology are exorbitant. To date, more than 100,000 drip irrigation systems have been purchased and put to use in India alone with demand continuing to escalate in spite of subsidy continuing to be given on conventional drip system.

IDEI’s strategy is to develop and deliver affordable small plot irrigation technologies that are commercially viable. IDEI closely works with private sector supply chain and focuses on design and development of new affordable products and market development. It develops affordable technologies, which, once sufficiently tested, are then commercialized through private sector. The private sector pays a royalty for using IDEI’s trademark “KB: which stands for Farmers Friend. IDEI envisages a for-profit-entity to take up the marketing of KB Drip and reach out to millions of poor farmers in semi-arid regions of India

IDEI has a reputation for decentralized decision-making, giving its 200 employees a high degree of responsibility based on accountability to a highly organized planning and monitoring system. A range of national and international donors invest their money in IDEI which is mainly for new product development, market creation and promoting entrepreneurships among smallholder farm families.

Brief Biography

I hold a Post Graduate Degree in Labor and Social Welfare with an additional Degree in Law. I abandoned a promising Government employment in 1982 to focus on issues of poverty and development.

I have spent 24 years in various aspects of rural development work. I started my carrier with Churches’ Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) implementing grass root level rural development programs in the state of Orissa, India. After five years I moved on to OXFAM a British Charity. In OXFAM I helped several organizations to initiate micro enterprises development programs. Than I joined IDE International in 1992, served as the Country Director of IDE Sri Lanka, and served as Deputy Country Director of IDE International’s India program until April 2001. I have worked in all aspects of IDE India – program design, field program management, staffing, finances, marketing, strategic planning, fund raising, donor relations and new product development. I have represented IDE in a number of international settings. I am the founding member of the IDE (India) and serve on its board, and have been selected to serve as the first Executive Director of IDE (India).

My Mandate was to build the IDE in India thirteen years ago. Since then, I have developed IDE India into a full fledged organization with reach throughout India. Under my leadership, India created an exemplary treadle pump supply chain that has provided 500,000 treadle pumps in India till March 2004 and the market growing with an average sale of 40,000 per year.

I am passionate about the issue of poverty in India and committed to a market-based approach to addressing their critical needs. I have been restricted by donors from generating revenue from my dream activities, and eager to move towards sustainability through models that bring revenue into IDE. In the same way that the poor suffer through one-off subsidized programs, I believe IDE will suffer if it remains dependent on donations. I have already created a for-profit entity known as Global Easy Water Products Private Limited which will demonstrate the viability of enterprises that serve the poor.

I still continue to serve in the Board of several reputed development organization.

I am married and have a son who is 15 years old.