Wednesday, April 2, 2014

SAIS students tackle irrigation challenge in India -- and seek your vote

Four SAIS students have a plan to help 70 million Indian farmers.

The four have put together a project that could raise farmers' incomes, save the Indian government money, increase agricultural productivity and protect the environment.

The plan is the brainchild of Mallory Baxter, Michael Eschmann, Markus Wilthanner and Nick Luter, students who were inspired by a course taught by SAIS Prof. Jonathan Brooks called "Agricultural Development, Poverty Reduction and Food Security".

The project, named HELIOS-I, addresses problems facing Indian farmers who rely on diesel-powered irrigation systems for their livelihood. The farmers shoulder high operational costs that crimp family income, are exposed to oil price fluctuations and generate carbon emissions.

Mallory Baxter
HELIOS-I aims to leverage technology, distribution and financing partners to enable farmers to switch from diesel- to solar-powered irrigation. It uses an innovative financing vehicle to promote the shift from diesel to solar by encouraging micro-finance institutions and rural banks to extend credit to small-holder farms. The large Indian market would provide a model that could later be expanded into East Africa and other South Asian countries.

Baxter, Eschmann and Wilthanner were students at SAIS Europe last year, while Nick Luter is doing both of his years at SAIS DC to obtain his MA.

HELIOS-I was recently selected as a finalist in the Agricultural Innovation Challenge, organized by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

To vote for HELIOS-I in the competition, click on this link, "like" the page and then vote for HELIOS-I.

Mallory Baxter (BO13/DC14)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To get updates on what those students are doing, like them here !