Biplab Paul

Ashoka Fellow
Gujarat, India
Fellow Since 2010


This profile was prepared when Biplab Paul was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Beginning with over a 100 existing farmer clusters in the rain-scarce and salinity-prone West Indian state of Gujarat, Biplab has created a system of irrigation that is run by women. The community-led initiative does not require any initial investment by the potential beneficiaries, while it assures guaranteed returns from the very next crop.

Biplab has introduced a five-stage process for solving the irrigation problem with the re-introduction of Bhungroo (meaning straw in Gujarati). This concept does not warrant farmers to pay anything upfront, instead, they agree to a five-year contract to repay the services of water logging-freeing and irrigation water through their cash crop. Naireeta Services Private Limited and SHGs take loans from financial institutions to install the infrastructure (i.e. bore-wells, pumps, piping systems, and other overhead costs) as well as the cost for supplying irrigation water to farmers for next five years. Irrigation cost for food crop (monsoon crop) is waived, so poor and marginal farmers are able to access food security. Eventually, farmers are allowed to pay 30 percent of their standing winter crop (cash crops). Instead of fixed cash payment, farmers are allowed to pay their preferred crop and crop type, which facilitates a farmer-centric flexible payment system. This process stems from a farmer-defined unique agro system based on an innovative technology and implementation process. This also attracts more small and marginal farmers to access the services of Bhungroo. After the stipulated time, whole hardware technology/systems along with need-based training are handed over to the group of participating farmers. At a basic level, Biplab’s idea addresses the threefold problem of the absence of year-round irrigation, lack of women’s empowerment, and low crop productivity. He has developed a network of citizen organizations (COs) to spread his work in different regions of India. Biplab also works closely with universities and governments for a faster transfer of the technology to a wider audience.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person


Currently we are endeavouring in two verticals both hinged upon gender centric process for sustainable development. For ultra poor women small holders we are enabling them with our globally awarded Innovative process BHUNGROO to save their standing crops from disaster and also to access doubling of agri-income along with lifetime family food security. Within urban domain we are enabling ultra poor women waste pickers in upgrading their skill in waste segregation, storage, value addition, and trade within a gender centric transparent and right based waste management process based upon our innovation globally awarded innovation ROCHAKK.

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