In the seventh edition of our #socialenterprisestories, we hear from Rahul about his amazing social entrepreneurship journey and also learn about various sustainable solutions to improve crop yields.
Rahul is the founder of Bhumitralab, a social enterprise that provides a range of sustainable products and solutions to increase yield and soil fertility. At 27, this young changemaker is already making a big difference to his community and motherland. Bhumitralab has been awarded “Agriculture Innovation Award – startup” at the national level, and also honored as one of the best startups at the state level. Their projects have already positively impacted thousands of people by enriching their livelihood.
Rahul Satpute hails from Savner village, from Nagpur district, India. It belongs to the Vidrabha region, which is one of regions with a high rate of farmer suicides. Various challenges contribute to this like poor harvest, low harvest prices, demand-supply challenges etc. Being from a farming family, Rahul has experienced these hardships alongside many he knew. In his seventh standard, he learnt about types of crop which can be grown as per soil and environment type. Through this lesson, he discovered that the pitfall of the system of demand-supply and one of the major root causes of getting low prices for the harvest. By, the time he completed his high school (tenth standard), he learned the knowledge needed to complete the cycle of farming to harvest.
During his senior high school studies (XI – XII standard), he started a small shop which provides basic necessities for farming, at affordable rates. Along with this, he and his family started teaching and spreading the awareness of the traditional practices. This zeal of bringing the change spurred him to equip himself with technology and more knowledge, doing a degree in Biotechnology. While his first year was smooth sailing and he was able to concentrate on his studies, his financial situation at home was gradually worsening. In addition to the financial stress faced at home during his second year, his mother passed away as well.
Despite these challenges, his vivacity and the passion to bring happiness to his family and village kept him going. With family support, they continued managing the shop and used its earnings for Rahul’s education. During his third year, he was able to identify that fertilizers are the bottleneck which eats up the majority of investments made during a farm-cycle. So his final year research project was based on a cow-dung based fertilizer, with Go vigyan anusandhan kendra (national institute for organic farming, specially focused Indian Cow and resurrect the self-sustaining Indian way of farming). His research got a patent in the US and his paper got published globally.
After graduation, he joined a part-time job as a graduate trainee at National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) where he did research on many crops, soil types and development of low cost bio-fertilizer concept. He developed two organic based fertilizers – which are now widely used all across India.
His work eventually got recognized at the national level and he became a formal advisor for organic farming. He started working full time as an Organic project manager expert and worked with several farmers and students. However, the feelings of limitation and boundaries to spread the knowledge fueled his decision to start something of his own. In 2018, this cumulated in the establishment of Bhumitra laboratories.