Much of India's rural population relies on small-scale farming for their income and livelihood. But each year about 30 percent of agricultural products are wasted before they leave the farms.
This is because bountiful harvests and fluctuating prices often force farmers to leave unsaleable produce to rot in the fields. These practices waste the precious energy and water used to grow them, re-demand additional resources for their disposal, and cause income losses for small farmers.
Founded by seven university friends, S4S Technologies combats food waste, rural poverty and gender inequality by helping small farmers, especially women, to store, process and market excess produce.
How S4S Technologies works
The organization provides rural communities with solar-powered conduction dryers and low-cost food processing equipment to prepare crops locally instead of using cold storage or other more expensive methods of industrial food preservation.
With a focus on supporting women farmers, S4S also supports women entrepreneurs in using stored waste to produce and sell valuable food products, such as ketchup. S4S creates a market by connecting commercial buyers with these products and returning most of the profits to the women farmers who produced them.
"Food waste, rural poverty, and gender inequality are deeply intertwined challenges for the people of India. S4S's innovative solution combines cutting-edge technology with the practical support and training needed," says Nidhi Pant, Co-Founder of S4S Technologies.
Winner of the Earthshot Prize 2023 for the Build a waste-free world section, S4S Technologies has tested a simple yet revolutionary system. It acquires fresh produce from farmers through village-level collection centres (VLCCs), processes the produce through food micro-processing units, and serves it ready-to-use to more than 1,100 customers in the food and beverage industry.
Both procurement and processing are carried out by women. Some 300,000 small-scale women farmers supported by S4S have seen their profits increase by 10-15%, while 2,000 women entrepreneurs have seen their incomes double or even triple.
Solar-powered food dehydration system operated by female entrepreneurs
Decentralized agrifood processing platform that provides shelf-life, nutritious, ready-to-use food
© all rights reserved