After opening Om Sakthi, Dr. Renganathan began to see firsthand the challenges Indian agriculture faces. Farmers are confronted with high price volatility, overproduction losses, and strict aesthetic standards. Since the majority of Indian farmers – 85 percent – are marginal with declining landholdings, these uncertainties make them even more vulnerable and risk prone.
While on the hunt for new ways to improve the conditions of his farming community, Dr. Renganathan was introduced to our polycarbonate materials. Using this high-tech plastic, he built six solar dryers that enable locally grown produce to be preserved and sold at a higher price. In the second part of our interview, Dr. Renganathan explains how his solar drying facility helps reduce food spoilage and waste, offers local farmers a stable income, and helps fight poverty and hunger in his home region.
How would you describe the current situation of Indian farmers?
Many of the farmers in India are overproducing. There is a lot of waste because cold storage is not available; it is too costly. Additionally, consumers expect produce to have uniform color, shape, and weight. When produce is selected like this, 30 to 50 percent of the farmers’ products become waste.
Could you talk more about consumers’ behavior of rejecting ugly fruits and vegetables?
People want to see attractive fruit, but agricultural produce is not produced in a factory. It’s produced by nature’s law. You cannot have uniform color, uniform shape, and uniform size. It’s not the color of the food that matters. It’s the nutritive value.
I hear echoes of the United States civil rights movement. “We should not judge fruit by the color of its skin, but by the nutritional content of its character.” You’re the Martin Luther King of fruit.
Yes! The consumer mindset has to change towards natural products. When that day comes, we will not waste anything, and the farmer will be phenomenally rich.