Selco Foundation makes a mark in Mizoram with trade fair 
Mizoram’s First Trade Facilitation Fair

Aizawl: A tool to check the water level at water tank units. A solar-powered unit for hatching eggs. An Eri silk-spinning machine powered by solar energy. These were a few of the two dozen or so inventions displayed at Mizoram’s First Trade Facilitation Fair.

A variety of inventions driven by sustainability and a product of the genius of innovators from across India were given a platform by Selco Foundation Atal Incubation Centre in partnership with Planning and Implementation Department, NorthEast Initiative Development Agency (NEIDA) and Mizoram Science, Technology and Innovation Council (MISTIC) at the fair on March 16 and 17.

Selco Foundation, which has only recently set foot in Mizoram, is driven towards enabling grassroots problem solving with an ecosystem’s perspective, or in simple words, to make the life of the farmers easier and more productive but on a sustainable note. It has taken various initiatives in this regard across the country. Earlier this month, in the Udupi district in Karnataka, health officials signed an MoU with the foundation to equip 61 PHCs with solar panels.

In February, dairy entrepreneurs and camel herders in Rajasthan were equipped with solar-powered milk chillers after the foundation collaborated with a local NGO, and just last year Selco Foundation’s Atal Incubation Centre signed an MoU with Manipur Science and Technology Council. The Trade Facilitation fair is its first step in Mizoram. 

“Solar Energy is a God-gifted resource,” said Dr R Lalthangliana, Health Minister and Chief Guest of the event at the fair inauguration program. He suggested that Selco Foundation would scale very fast in the state and highlighted various areas where Mizoram could make use of the foundation. One of the key points he highlighted was the power supply. 

“It may drastically reduce the expenditure spent for the grid,” he said, speaking of how Mizoram has to spend crores to purchase power. The minister said he hoped Selco would take quick initiatives in the state and that the state is ready to incur necessary expenses to support them. Last year, a report quoted Power and Electricity Minister, R Lalzirliana saying that Mizoram has “outstanding dues of 132 crores to be paid to power companies from where the state purchases power.”

Mizoram was one of the 13 states barred by the Central government from buying or selling electricity on power exchanges until their bills were cleared. 

Lalnuntluanga Colney, State Lead, SELCO foundation- Mizoram responded to the comment saying, “Selco Foundation will prove to be a useful resource in Mizoram with the introduction of sustainable energy like solar power which is of high need. It will help farmers and even people from other sectors to be more productive and increase their output as they will have access to reliable power.”

The fact that farmers were the main focus was evident at the Trade Facilitation Fair as all the stalls on display had two things in common, one – that they were sustainable means of technology and two that they were linked to farming and agriculture. 

An innovator from Maharashtra, Anand, who sat just around three blocks from the entrance had a printed backdrop of his invention, an automatic solar bio fermenter machine filter in his stall. On his table was a handwritten note listing the ingredients required to make fertilizer, or pest controllers through the machine. In a pamphlet he distributed to each passerby was written, “Farmers save 90% time and hard work(using the machine).”

A rapid automated soil testing machine took the attention of many, linked with a mobile phone, the machine given the name, Krishi-Raasta could produce the result of the soil in an application on a mobile phone. The innovator had come from Mangaluru. 

Local innovations that could prove useful to the people of Mizoram were also displayed such as an areca nut dehusking machine and a large-scale vegetable cutter to prepare food for livestock. A unique display was a Technology demonstration on Salt and Mineral Lick Block (SMLB).

“The aim of the SMLB was herding Mithun. With Mithun being known to have a hunger for salts and other minerals, the SMLB will be kept at a strategic location where it can be licked by a Mithun and thereby ease the workload of owners as they will be able to track their livestock without the need of going to the jungle,” said the Subject Matter Specialist, Dr C Lalremruata.

Another innovator, H A Sangzuala told East Mojo how the plight of farmers who were unable to drive tractors to their paddy fields due to the muddy terrain had requested a rice husking machine, so he built one in 2021. The machine which he named Zo Fasuar was displayed at his stall. 

East Mojo also spoke to farmers participating in the event. 

Joseph H Lalrinawma, who had come to the fair with a group of banana cultivators from Khumtung village in Serchhip district, told East Mojo, “We came to see a banana fibre processing machine. When we cut the banana tree and it is on the ground it becomes a nuisance. However, if there is a machine to use the banana fibres, it will be very useful for us. Also, I have my eyes on the egg hatchery machine. I had seen a similar one on Youtube and really wanted it but since we do not have it in Mizoram we had someone make it, however, the quality is not good. So I am pondering whether I should buy the egg hatchery machine available at the fair. Even the other machines and the talks we have heard are quite useful for us. It gives us ideas for our own inventions.” 

While some farmers were ecstatic, some did not share the excitement. Farmers who were expecting to purchase machinery at subsided rates were met with disappointment, Lallianpuia from Thingfal village in Lunglei District said, “I came to know about the event from NEIDA officials in Lunglei. I am a livestock owner and I rear pigs. I have greatly benefited from this fair but I think it is not useful for everyone. I came all the way from my village hoping to buy a machine at a subsidy, but it is not possible.” 

The fair also saw participation from citizens in Aizawl who were curious about solar-powered technologies. Thanmawii, an 81-year-old participant from Dawrpui, told East Mojo, “I came to the fair with my sister. We brought a lot of locally produced edibles. I also took the number of the person who invented the machine to check water tank levels as it is something that we really need in our house. Our water tanks often spill over and we end up losing a lot of water even though it is really scarce and precious to us.” 

Also Read | Mizoram: Aizawl police recover arms, two arrested

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