Neha Bhat with her NXplorers project

NXplorers, an innovative educational programme that aims at building awareness, developing knowledge and providing thinking tools and complex problem-solving skills for the leaders of the future, supports a local student from Karnataka to come up with an award-winning solution to improve crop pesticide treatment.

The local farmers at Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka were constantly facing skin, eye and other health related issues while spraying Bordeaux mixture, commonly known as ‘Bordo Mix’ on their plantations. This mixture was being used by the farmers for removal of fungus and to prevent the crops from rotting during the rainy season.

15-year old Neha Bhat, the ninth-grade student from the same community, took up the challenge to provide a solution to the problem faced by the farmers. She applied her learnings from NXplorers, Shell’s flagship STEM education program, that she recently attended. This innovative program introduced Neha to the complex and creative thinking needed to bring about any positive change. The confidence and empathy that Neha gained through the NXplorers journey sensitised her about the situation. Supported and guided to focus on the Food-Water-Energy nexus and ‘Systems Thinking,’ she started by gathering information about the traditional methods used for spraying. These commonly included using Gator pumps. She further analysed and evaluated her findings to conclude that the Gator pumps could not control pressure and output properly. Moreover, these methods consumed a significant number of manhours, labour and fuel, making it difficult and time consuming for the farmers. The challenge was complex, and she needed to provide a solution swiftly.

With the help of her school teachers and NXplorers mentors, she applied the NXplorers Scenario Planning tools, and after several experiments, developed an advanced, multipurpose, triple efficient, automatic Agri Sprayer which can spray the pesticide with maximum effectiveness and minimum manual effort from the farmer. Furthermore, it helps reduce human intervention, it’s easy to use, maintenance free, consumes less fuel, produces less noise, saves time and works with enhanced efficiency.

Neha has tested this prototype in her family owned farms, and it has proved to be a lot more effective when compared to the existing sprayers. The prototype addresses the challenges of farming to maximise crop yield and reduce man hours while helping the farmers maintain their health. Neha is currently working on the Theory of Change and looking at actions that could further help in reducing the size and improving the efficiency of the Agri Sprayer.

Neha’s problem-solving creative innovation “Agri Sprayer” was recently recognized by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and won a cash prize of Rs 30,000 along with a certificate. Her project was one among other six projects submitted by NXplorers students in the competition.

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