< PBRME Catalyser: An Innovative Cluster Based Nexus Approach to Accelerated Low Carbon Transition in India | Change Planet Partners Climate Innovation Foundation

Change Planet Partners Climate Innovation Foundation

Problem Context: The par boiled rice mill industry in India is characterized by multiple challenges – technology for par boiled rice production and effluent treatment, poor rice husk, ash and bran recovery, ownership and nature of mill operations, working capital and capital expenditure constraints and lack of skilled technical pool to map /tap potential opportunities from all parts of the value chain. The innovation primarily address the effluent treatment challenge but at the same time attempts to present interesting markets enabling and catalysing possibilities through the technology lever route.

Innovation Outline: One innovation where we see tremendous potential is to use a cost effective anaerobic-aerobic technology ( proven and with multiple pilot installations specially targeted at the food processing industry) to enable and catalyze multiple service/business possibilities across food-water-energy value chains in par boiled rice mill industry in India.

Market Size: India with a data basis of 1300 rice mill clusters with 100 units each per cluster totalling 1,30,000 mills across India. Assuming an INR 2 million/mill investment opportunity and conversion rate of 10% of the mills in the cluster towards innovation adoption -419 mio USD potential exists. Overall addressable market potential stands at: 4193 mio USD at a USD-INR conversion rate of 62.

Transformative Aspect: The transformative  aspect of the innovation is that it seeks to use the cost effective dynamic anaerobic-aerobic treatment technology lever to not only address pressing par boiled rice mill effluents (red category in India) processing needs but also to expand innovative service/business opportunities in

  • reuse water purification and sales,
  • bio gas purification and sales for downstream lift irrigation, crop drying and agricultural power tools operations,
  • improve rice husk, ash , bran post-harvest handling operations and co-generate valuable by-products from them, and
  • push for small carbon POA type carbon projects development around energy and green bio gas generation opportunities.

Further, the focus of the innovation is centred around SME type par boiled rice mill clusters and on cost effectiveness making the innovation attractive for scale across such clusters in India.

The urgency lays in two aspects – sharp cluster, food-agro processing investment thrusts of the federal/state governments and red category of par boiled rice mills for their effluent treatment /disposal practices.

The  process and the technology, somewhat analogous ones ( anaerobic-aerobic process technology combinations), have been piloted by NIIST – CSIR , Thiruvananthapuram, IICPT- Tanjore, Institute of Post Harvest Technology – Sri- Lanka. The results of the pilots are encouraging on cost effectiveness, simplicity of treatment, use of combined anaerobic-aerobic process steps and scope for ready adoption /scale. The technology variant(s) are also in the adoption upswing elsewhere in the world.

Metrics: The key quantifiable metrics that form the backbone of the innovation include

  • 50% of effluent water captured for re-use within the mill and the rest 50% re-processed (25% for drinking water and 25% for lift irrigation) amounting to total 32256 m3 of effluent recovery/annum/mill,
  • 23 – 29,000 m3 of methane recovery/annum/mill,
  • 250 – 324 tco2e/annum/mill emission reduction potential,
  • USD 5,000 – 40,000 worth of energy conservation/post-harvest technology opportunities map/mill and
  • 1 accelerator facility /rice mill cluster. 

Beneficiaries: The innovation is likely to benefit mill owners (profitability, improved value chain operations, expanded business opportunities), employees (skill – technology upgrade routes), distributors (bio gas and re-used water downstream processing/sales), consumers (no quality change of par boiled rice produced using treated water), farmers (treated water for re-use in lift irrigation through biogas diesel pump conversion kits), and women (bio-gas solar hybrid driers for crop drying purposes).

Typical expected end-users could be par boiled rice mill owners who would deploy the technology and act as reference points for others within the cluster to follow.  Proof of concept, clear benefits, innovative financial packaging, tailored technical assistance and quick pay back are likely to attract mill owners to adopt the innovation.

But for each of the identified key players in question a) above,

  • consumers need to be educated and convinced on the quality of par boiled rice produced using treated water,
  • farmers need to be appraised of the availability and use of bio-gas-diesel pump conversion kits in order to take best advantage of the bio-gas generated for cutting their lift irrigation costs using diesel,
  • women need to be exposed to the possibilities of adopting biogas-solar hybrid driers for crop drying purposes and seeing additional opportunities for income through solar drying value addition and
  • distributors need to be fully engaged to see service business opportunities in biogas packing, beneficiation, sales and polishing treated water to produce both drinking water and water for irrigation purposes.

It is here that having a dedicated accelerator facility per cluster can help in faster and better adoption of the innovation.

Mill owners and downstream farmers, distributors, women are predominantly in the low skill, sole- partner proprietorship business models, quick to uptake cost effective and easily scalable technologies and driven to increase incomes/agriculture yields.

Critical Success Factors: The critical success factors for the innovation uptake will lay in 1) benefits, financial, technology and market linkages assistance packaging and buy in of early adopters across the value chain 2) building quality product image produced with treated water 3) proven models exposure visits 4) cluster accelerator facility 5) pay back and ease of deployment and 6) business/service expansion opportunities sensitization on co/by products (especially bran, ash and husk, tertiary treatment, gas-diesel conversion kits, solar-biogas hybrid driers and biogas operated agriculture power tools through the accelerator facility ).

The innovation thus differing in two primary ways – technology lever and a cluster based model presents enormous scope to catalyze multiple service/business model opportunities along the entire par boiled rice-water-energy value chains in India.

Any takers for this?