Appropriate Rural Technology Institute, or ARTI for short, is a Non-Government Organisation (NGO), founded by a group of scientists and social workers. Each member of the ARTI group has spend his/her entire adult life in activities related to rural development. The group had been functioning informally for more than 10 years, when ARTI was formally registered in April 1996, as a Scientific Society and a Public Trust.
Scientific discoveries and new technologies tend to benefit mainly the urban population, while the rural society has, on the whole, remained outside the sphere of this new development. The main objective of ARTI is to serve as an instrument of sustainable rural development through application of scientific and technological knowledge. Thus, the primary activity of the Institute is to undertake research projects to study, develop, standardise, implement, commercialise and popularise innovative and sustainable appropriate rural technologies with special emphasis on making traditional rural enterprises more profitable and generating new income generating opportunities through introduction of novel enterprises in rural areas.
ARTI is an Indian organisation and its projects are specifically aimed at development of rural India. However, most of the technologies being developed and promoted are universally applicable. The Institute provides consultancy as well as training to potential rural entrepreneurs in all the technologies developed by it.
New Nursery Techniques: Almost 80% of dicotyledonous species can be propagated by the simple method of rooted cuttings, if the cuttings are treated with a rooting hormone and kept under conditions of high relative humidity. A high humidity chamber, consisting of a sand bed covered by a dome of transparent plastic film, was developed, along with protocol for hormonal treatment, hardening and transplanting of the rooted cuttings. If the cutting or the scion of a graft is taken from an adult tree, the clone shows very early flowering and fruiting. This allowed the development of a new nursery item, namely miniature flowering trees (Delonix regia, Erythrina indica, Azadirachta indica, various species of Ficus, Michaelia champaka, Nyctanthus arbor tristis, Mimusops elengi, etc.). Many local plant species were identified as shade tolerant. They are being introduced as new indoor plants.Methods of cloning have been standardised for nearly 100 species, which include medicinal plants and trees yielding non-timber commercial products. Composted sugarcane trash (dried leaves) can be used in the potting medium as peat substitute. Frequency of watering can be reduced by adding a water absorbing gel (Jalashakti) to the potting medium. The rate of growth of seedlings is doubled, if they are planted on raised beds made out of a sand-soil mixture, and surrounded by a skirting of plastic film and if the space within the planted rows is covered by a black plastic mulch. Methods have been developed to modulate plant growth by using red and far
red light. Post-transplanting growth rate of seedlings and saplings raised in root trainers is twice that of saplings raised in a plastic bag. If a leaf, along with its axillary bud, is scooped out and treated with rooting hormone, the petiole produces roots, while the axillary bud grows into a shoot. Thus an entire plant can be produced from a single leaf. The rooted petiole of a leaf can be used as a root stock in the production of grafts. The technique works primarily in dicotyledonous species.
Supply of seedlings of seasonal crop species: Date of planting of rainfed cotton, Pigeonpea, castor, etc. is effectively advanced, and the yield doubled, if seedlings are raised in plastic bags during the summer season, and transplanted at the onset of monsoon. The same technique can also be used in sugarcane. A business based on these items has a potential annual market of Rs. ten thousand million in Maharashtra state alone.
Tissue culture: Low cost tissue culture uses pressure cooker, air cooler and jam jars instead of autoclave, air conditioners and Pyrex or Borosil ware, respectively. Rainwater serves as source of distilled water. A laboratory producing just a few hundred plantlets per week costs less than Rs.5 hundred thousand to set up. The ex vitro plantlets are used only as mother plants, which are multiplied in a nursery under exclusion of pests and diseases, and the second or third generation is sold to farmers. The cost per plant can be reduced drastically in this way.
Farming on permanent raised beds: Raised beds made of a mixture of sand and soil are laid on a plastic film. All the soil related limiting factors (wrong pH, soil compaction, salinity, nutrient deficiency, poor aeration, weeds, pathogens etc.) are eliminated in this system, so that plants respond well to fertilizers. Using three times the recommended dose of fertilizers, along with the necessary micronutrients, we get three times the yield in most crop species. Capital cost of the system is Rs.50 per sq.m and the annual running
cost is Rs.5 per sq.m. Net annual profit ranges from Rs. 100 to Rs.250 per sq.m., depending upon the species under cultivation.
Low cost greenhouse: The primary function of a greenhouse is to provide plants with additional carbon dioxide. Neither heating nor cooling is required in peninsular India. Carbon dioxide is produced by green plants during the night, and by soil microorganisms all the time. Being heavier than air, it accumulates near the ground. If the crop is surrounded by a skirting of plastic film, one gets the typical greenhouse effect with increased yield. The top of this greenhouse is kept open. Per acre cost of a conventional greenhouse is Rs. ten to twenty million per ha. Our greenhouse costs just a tenth of this.
Bamboo for outdoor structures: Biodegradation of bamboo can be retarded by impregnating it with a mixture of sodium dichromate, copper sulphate and boric acid. Such bamboo poles can replace steel as a structural element in outdoor structures like scaffoldings for grapes, greenhouses, fences, and even water tanks, reducing their cost by almost 90%. The impregnation kit costs less than Rs.2,500 and the chemicals cost about Rs.2 per pole. As a crop too bamboo is very paying, yielding about Rs.5 hundred thousand per hectare every year.
Using sea water for irrigation: If sea water is used regularly for irrigation, even salt tolerant plants are eventually killed, because the salinity level of the soil gradually increases as the water evaporates. Growing plants on raised beds of sand, and irrigating them daily with sea water to flush out the accumulated salts in the root zone, allowed cultivation of many economically important species (e.g.coconut, Casuriana, Prosopis juliflora, Thespesia populnea, Salvadora persica, most of the mangrove species) with sea water irrigation.
Shampoo powder from pods of Acacia auriculiformis: A process has been standardised for making shampoo and soap based on saponins from the pods of Acacia auriculiformis. Chemically, the saponin from this species is identical to that from Shikekai (Acacia concinna).
Growing root drugs in sand beds: If plants are grown in channels filled with sand or gravel, the roots grow horizontally in the channels, instead of growing deep into the soil. This system allows the entire root biomass to be harvested and the roots are devoid of soil adhering to them. In some cases, a part of the roots can be harvested without destroying the plants.
High intensity cultivation of cattle fodder: Hybrid Napier grass, planted on artificial raised beds made out of sand-soil mixture and provided with all the necessary mineral nutrients, yields 10 kg green fodder per sq.m., once every 40 days. Thus a raised bed system of just 80 sq.m. allows harvest of two sq. m. every day, to obtain daily 20 kg green fodder, which is enough to feed a buffalo or a hybrid cow giving 10 litres milk per day, or a monthly income of Rs.2500 to 3000.
Sewage disposal through irrigation of timber and fuelwood trees: Irrigating a tree plantation with domestic sewage is not only cheaper than any of the modern sewage treatment technologies but also profitable because of the income from the timber. Under Maharashtra conditions, a hectare of tree plantation can evaporate daily 100,000 litres of water. One must use evergreen trees in this system, so that it is functional throughout the year.
New method of irrigating tree plantations: Water is given to trees by a drip irrigation system, but it is delivered 50 cm below the soil surface, with the help of a rigid plastic tube, about 50 cm long and about 12 mm wide, embedded vertically into the ground, near the base of a tree. A micro-tubule of the drip system is let into this tube. This method of irrigation prevents evaporation of water from the soil surface and there is also no weed growth. Doubling or sometimes even quadrupling of the growth rate was observed in trees watered in this way in comparison to those receiving the same quantity of
water by the conventional drip, which wets the surface of the soil.
Improved biomass burning stoves: In traditional rural mud stoves, only about 10% of the total calorific value of the fuel is utilised towards cooking, while in the stoves developed by ARTI, almost 30 % of the energy gets utilised for cooking. Professional stoves designed for one particular function, and developed for a particular pot and a particular fuel, record a fuel use efficiency of even 40%.
Utilisation of sugarcane trash: Every ha of sugarcane produces about 10 tonnes of dry leaves (cane trash), which are just burnt in situ. By using an aerobic composting process, the sugarcane trash can be converted into a peat substitue for use by the plant nursery industry. Alternatively, the trash can be charred in a special charring furnace and converted into fuel briquettes.
An autotrophic system for hairy root production: Petioles of leaves are stimulated to produce roots. Due to lack of any other organs, photosynthates produced by the leaves produce only roots. Such leaves, provided with mineral nutrients, water and sunlight, have a life of about 3 to 6 months. After senescence they are harvested and the roots are processed to extract the secondary netabolites.
Low cost water tank: Construct a 120 cm tall palisade structure by
embedding vertical bamboo poles, at a distance of 60 cm from each other, along the periphery of an area marked on the ground. Top surface of the marked area should be smoothly plastered. Fix a continuous galvanised iron sheet of 120 cm width within the palisade and fit a piece of plastic film into this space. The tank, thus formed, is filled with rainwater after just 1200 mm of rainfall. Cover the tank with another sheet of plastic film. Cost of a tank of
25,000 litre capacity is just Rs.12,000.
ARTI Training Modules
Trainees can choose a combination of modules as per their requirements. Details will be provided on request.
I: NURSERY TECHNIQUES
1. Construction of high humidity chamber and its use
2. Vegetative multiplication; use of hormones
3. Transplanting, hardening of plants raised in humidity chamber
4. Use of auxiliary light to modulate plant growth; root trainers; shade netting; mini-greenhouse; plastic mulch
5. Continuous process of composting; liquid organic manure
6. Seedlings of seasonal crops; bonsai technology
II: CROP PRODUCTION ON PERMANENT RAISED BEDS
1. Preparing raised beds for (a) vegetables (b) floriculture
2. Fertiliser application (a) chemical (b) organic manure
3. Irrigation (a)drip (b) hose pipe/watering can with rose nozzle
4. (a) mini- (b) full-size- greenhouse using bamboo, plastic film
5. Treatment of bamboo to increase its outdoor life
6. Special techniques for (a) fodder (b) medicinal plants (c) roots
III: TREATMENT AND USE OF BAMBOO AND WOOD
1. Preparing treatment solution
2. Treatment (a) with pump (b) without pump
3. Constructing (a) greenhouse (b) scaffolding (c) water tank
IV: BIOMASS BURNING CHULHAS AND FUEL FROM BIOMASS
1. Preparation of clay for constructing a chulha
2. Design principles of chulhas and the various improved models
3. Constructing chulha (a) domestic (b) large-size (c) bakery oven
4. Charring of biomass for making char briquettes
V: PLANT TISSUE CULTURE
Requirements: Two build-up rooms of 10 sq.m. each, with water and electricity connection, laboratory hardware worth Rs. 2,00,000/- (in India).
ARTI provides: know-how for setting up the lab and techniques that make disease free planting material affordable to farmers and the lab a viable enterprise; training to the staff in the trainee’s lab; protocols for sugarcane, banana, turmeric and ginger; technical back up support after the training.
For Information, Comments, Contact:
Dr. A.D. Karve, President,
Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI),
2nd Floor, Maninee Apartments, Survey No. 13,
Opposite Pure Foods Co., Dhayarigaon,
Pune 411 029, India.
Phone: 91 020 342217/4390348/4392284
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