Interactive Socio-Technical Practicum

Extending the Apple Season: Cold Storage in Himachal Pradesh, India

Students: Mohit Jain, IIT Nimit Kalal, IIT; Virginia Massa, WPI Peter Melendez, WPI; James Muller, WPI Kunal Shah, WPI;
Advisors: Dr. Jaspreet Kaur, IIT; Dr. Rik Rani, IIT; Professor Fabio Carrera, WPI; Professor Svetlana Nikitina, WPI;

In Himachal Pradesh, India, farmers are forced to sell immediately after harvest or lose their crop to disease and rot. This project attempted to understand problems affecting fruit and vegetable farmers and identify ways to alleviate them. To this end, we interviewed farmers, storage facilities, and a local non-profit organization, and conducted research into modern farming practices. Our work resulted in multiple recommendations for improving farmers’ livelihoods in addition to the development of an app and pamphlet for their benefit.

Project Outcomes

In order to help farmers coordinate and increase awareness of both good practices and cold storage, we have created two major deliverables. The first of these is a pamphlet geared at apple farmers describing good practices for handling and packaging the fragile fruit. The pamphlet also contains details of cold storage and its benefits, notably the ability for greater profit from each harvest. These pamphlets can be distributed by the Kullu Fruit Growers’ Association or the government in addition to their normal workshops, as a guide to farmers.

The second deliverable is a dual purpose mobile Android application, also geared toward apple farmers. Part of this app will be educational, informing farmers of good agricultural practices and how to handle and care for the apple fruit. The app also will contain information on cold storage and its benefits, and how farmers can work together to rent even large cold or controlled atmosphere storage spaces collectively. The other major part will allow farmers to find cold storage facilities nearby and share their interest in storing there to other farmers. In this way, multiple farmers who are interested can collaborate and rent a single unit which none of them would have been able to fill individually. Through this app, cold storage facilities would be able to send updates and announcements to farmers, and help organize space rental. See Table 3 for an outline of all our project goals and how our deliverables and recommendations tackle them.

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