A Vadodara-based multinational company Xylem Water Solutions is trying to engage with population at the bottom of the pyramid – the farmers, using innovation.
“We have completed the pilot run of pedal pumps and by next month it would be available in the Indian market” said Sam Yamdagni, managing director, Xylem Water Solutions India, a subsidiary of $ 3.8 billion Xylem Inc, maker of large water pumps and sewage solution provider.
The company would soon come with its patented pedal water pumps for Indian farmers. Targeting the bottom of the pyramid to enter the Indian agriculture pump markets size of Rs 4550 crore and in future it also plans to export the pedal pumps to countries of emerging economies like Africa, Latin America and SE Asia.
According to Mr. Yamdagni, his company would be targeting the bottom of the pyramid – farmers, which is a voluminous market spread across the length and breadth of India. The first consignment of 125 pedal pumps would be delivered to a Maharastra -based NGO to be distributed amongst the farmers there.
Priced at Rs 7000 per piece, pedal pumps has already turned popular amongst the institutional players especially the NGOs, as the company received an order-book for another 1200 pedal pumps.
Interestingly, Xylem’s core business is in building large water pumps for industries and sewage treatment plant, usually undertaking large water and sewage solution project across the globe.
So why targeting the farmer?
Nearly eight months ago, Mr Yamdagni, while visiting a village, found farmers struggling with water irrigation due to frequent power cuts. On returning he asked his R&D team at Vadodara to develop water solutions for villagers and farmers. It all started with cycle driven water pump that can be used to fetch water from a pond or water-wells or any other water tank, with least effort. However the idea was dropped as it turned out to be complicated for the farmers and it also required high maintenance, thus making it unviable in long run.
Meanwhile, the R&D team kept pondering on new solutions, the managing director Mr Yamdagni, while working-out on a stepper machine at a gymnasium stuck with an idea to convert the stepper machine into a pedal water pump.
Stepper machine are common in many gymnasium and health clubs, usually consists of two foot platforms that alternately rise and fall as a person take steps. There are also handles for the person to hold onto as he/she step and most have a console that may display steps taken, heart rate, distance and time.
Mr Yamdgani, asked his R&D team to use the principal of stepper machine and convert it into a pedal driven water pumping system. It took 12 months of trial and error to finally develop a workable, user friendly and economical product for the farmers, which allows farmer themselves to repair it in case of breakdown.
“It’s an unaccounted for value chain, which cannot be defined by neither an economist nor a banker, but a farmer can” said Mr Yamdgani. According to him, this kind of farmer friendly product not only makes his company enter into a voluminous business segment, but also allows farmers to get simple solutions instead on high cost solutions like electric water pumps or diesel run water pumps.
Interestingly, rural India still faces power (electricity) cuts for on an average 12 hours, thus affecting farm productivity and farmer’s income. On the other hand, with the recent deregulation of diesel prices, the ever rising diesel cost is impacting the income of farmers, especially the small and marginal farmers. “In villages, rental model is used for tractors and water pumps, with no electricity or high diesel prices, a rental model for pedal pumps can also come up” said Mr Yamdgani.
Pedal pump can be used by a 12 year kid weighting 15 kg to any adult with a maximum body weight of 140 kg. “A man with an average body weight of 50 kg can use pedal pump to fetch water for 25 minutes continuously” said Naresh Behl, director operation & projects, Xylem India. He further add that the pedal pump have a water drawing capacity of 18 liters per minute, which is equal to a one horse power electric water pump. The pedal pump has least resistance technology, that allows easy pedaling, which can allow the water to rise to a height of 22 meter (equal to 3 rd floor level).
The company gets its parts custom build from different vendors and assembled at its Vadodara facility. Currently, it has capacity to produce 1200 units in a month. Apart fromIndian market, the company would use its Vadodara base to export it to countries in Africa, Latin America and South East Asian countries.
Apart from this, the company is also undertaking a sewage treatment plant project in Jamnagar. The project is a consortium of Essar Group, World Bank, Jamnagar Municipality and Xylem India. It’s an Rs 100 crore plus project, which will convert city sewage water into potable water for industrial usage.
Source: Economic Times