Partnerships for scalable mechanised processing of Seasonal Forest Products: IIT Mandi

Our initiative at BIPP ISB relentlessly explores new opportunities to collaborate with various entities for building and adding value to our Initiative on the Forest Economy. In this endeavour, Executive Director of BIPP-ISB, Professor Ashwini Chhatre met with Associate Professor Arti Kashyap from IIT Mandi, joined by Mr. Kulbhushan Upmanyu, an environment leader from Kamla village, Bhatiyat. The meeting explored the possibility of customized machinery to process seasonal forest produce at the primary level of the supply chain in Himachal Pradesh.   

The machine aims to improve the processing quality and save time by mechanizing manual actions carried out by forest product collectors. Professor Arti has designed and developed an industrial-scale machine making briquettes from dry pine needles as an alternative fuel for the cement industry. She is in the process of testing a small-scale machine to enable distributed manufacturing at the village level to reduce transportation costs. Unaware of the State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM) and its potential, she has been facing problems in production at the primary level.   

Having assurance from ACC cement for the sale of briquettes and any other product, our women-centric enterprise model was the missing piece of the puzzle. Our work with Seasonal Forest Products has evoked her keen interest in collaborating with BIPP-ISB. The opportunity is a triple from all perspectives as the innovation will be in participation of local communities and will therefore ensure that most parameters for such technological implementation will be accounted for. These machines will also be logistically efficient and can be scaled easily to match the demand.  

Industries need a consistent large-scale supply of raw materials. Seasonal Forest Products collected by the communities should have the potential to supply bulk quantities in a planned timeline. Mr. Upmanyu is organizing villages to get Community Forest Resource rights titles in the Sihunta sub-tehsil and has already submitted 55 Community Forest Resource (CFR) rights reservation claims. All these villages have significant tracts of Chir pine needles which can be a raw material for this innovation. The communities are organized with active women participation making it a women-run organized community enterprise model.  

The vision is to organize a consistent large-scale supply of Seasonal Forest Products through CFR-titled communities and creating market linkages to the industries that need Seasonal Forest Products as their raw materials.   

Our Project Specialist, Ms. Apurva Duddu, met Professor Arti Kashyap and Mr. Kulbhushan Upmanyu for a detailed discussion about the collaboration and the enterprise model. They have expressed keen interest in collaborating with ISB-BIPP to build the customized Seasonal Forest Products processing machinery.   

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