Amal

Utilising stubble, uplifting farmers.
Project Amal is an initiative of ours that aims at preventing stubble burning by turning stubble waste into smokeless biochar briquettes, a greener substitute to charcoal. They act as a renewable source of energy.

//Problem and Solution

There is a dire need for an efficient and cost-friendly agro-waste management solution that can reduce carbon emissions and uplift low-income groups by providing them with cheaper alternatives.

There is a two-fold problem that needs to be addressed:

1. The agricultural waste, which is either burnt or disposed of without proper procedure or treatment causes pollution, loss of nutrients in the soil, death of various animals and plants, amongst other problems. More than 500 million tonnes of crop residue is produced annually in the country, out of which approximately 92 metric tonnes is burned every year.

2. India produces 60% of its electricity from charcoal, which, as a non-renewable source of energy, is hampering their availability for the future. The burning of charcoal also releases various harmful chemicals in the air like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, etc. 

We have brought an innovative solution to the stubble burning problem through the creation of value-oriented final products from it, rather than utilizing the conventional ways of collecting stubble or charging fines, which put the marginalized farmers in an unfavourable position of either revolting against the authorities or suffering a greater economic loss. Our whole process is completely eco-friendly and no harmful gasses are released (as we would be keeping the moisture content below 5%). Our briquettes have higher tensile strength and calorific value compared to regular coal (lab certified) which makes it a better choice for our customers who demand higher quality. Also, due to the easy availability of raw materials and cost-effective technologies, our per-unit cost stands as low as Rs. 20 per kg, which is almost 40% lower than conventional coal. Considering all factors mentioned above, we get a competitive advantage on both the supply and demand sides. We are also researching how we can integrate manufacturing pulp and construction material in our model. Continuous research and product innovation is something we make sure to include in our model, to differentiate and expand our product basket.

 

//Community and Business Model

Farmers are helpless as burning the stubble is the only economically viable option. That's when we realized that we have to turn the residue into something valuable for them. The farmers, who are already struggling to make a decent living due to problems like soil infertility and unaffordable chemical fertilizers, have no option but to burn them. Our initial research revealed that agro-waste could be productively used to create multiple value chains. We decided to create a feasible agro-waste management solution while also uplifting the rural community holistically by giving them an alternate source of income and boosting the rural economy.

 

Mobilising the farmers for acquiring agro-waste

We start by getting in touch with farmers, individually and through FPOs to maintain a sustainable supply chain. We form an agreement with the FPO to procure agro-waste against a minimal rate of Rs. 2/kg. 

Transportation and storage

We transfer the agro-waste to storage centres set up in collaboration with FPOs and the local government to stockpile the stubble collected. These centres are strategically located at places where it is convenient to transport the stubble from the neighbouring farms.

Processing

The stubble procured is then processed into biochar using a pyrolysis reactor. In the process of pyrolysis, we burn stubble in a limited oxygen supply. Removal of moisture followed by pyrolysis, where all the agro-waste is thermally decomposed in an oxygen-poor environment, reducing the carbon emissions to a staggering level unlike the process of combustion which is where our speciality lies. Lastly, moulding of briquettes takes place. 

Employing a supervisor and factory officials

We employed a supervisor and 21 rural entrepreneurs directly, giving them a source of livelihood.

Establishing marketing linkages

Due to our pricing being ₹25/kg unlike conventional char which costs 40/kg and our product being of higher quality on many parameters with environmental benefits attached, we have been able to take on board institutional clients like barbeque nation, A2P energy, Smile NGO who will, in turn, buy our produce.

 

//Triple-Bottom-Line Impact

Environmental Impact

  • 222,500 kgs of agricultural waste processed

  • Prevented 460 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions

  • 120 to 1,500 - preventing AQI from worsening from 120 to 1,500 in zones where our

product will completely substitute charcoal (without taking into account the negative

externalities)

 

Economical Impact

  • 40% reduction in expenditure on coal (from an average of Rs.42kg to Rs.25/kg)

  • 150% increase in the monthly income of employees

  • Generated revenue of $16,000

  • $12,500 saved on costs



Social Impact

  • Spreading awareness about the hazardous effects of coal and stubble burning

  • Empowered 55 farmers

  • 21 jobs created

 

//Our Vision

Our vision is to integrate small and marginal farmers into the supply chain system of biomass and to create employment opportunities in rural areas. We envision Amal as a holistic agro-waste model by exploring other uses of stubble waste such as bio-oil, construction material, etc. 

 

//Achievements

  1. Partnered with Ministry of MSME to disburse ₹5 crores to 3000 farmer households in Sangrur

  2. On-boarded 16 B2B institutional clients including Barbeque Nation and Eden Resorts 

  3. Lauded by Honourable Rural Development Minister of Punjab for holistic impact 

  4. Received funding from Milan Administration, an International Government Institution in Italy 

  5. Adjudged as one of the Top 5 projects worldwide in Race for Climate Action by Enactus