Farmers in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra grow okra as border plantation to their cotton crops and have successfully managed to control the pest menace by using the traditional practise of burying the okra in the ground, says Prof Anil K Gupta.
Gupta, who teaches at the IIM-Ahmedabad and the founder of the National Innovation Foundation details such grassroot innovations in his new book 'Grassroots Innovation: Minds on the Margin are not Marginal Minds.' (Penguin Random House India)
"There has been a traditional pest control practice in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. Farmers of that area grow Okra (Bhindi) as a border crop around the cotton field. Okra belongs to same botanical family as cotton and flowers they yield are also very similar. But since the okra crop blooms much earlier than cotton, the pests gravitate toward Okra. They uproot these plants and bury them in ground or spray herbal pesticides on them. This is indeed a low cost and quick method to control the pests", Gupta says.
The solution, says Gupta, made its way to him in Ahmedabad but was not disseminated at local level in other districts of state.
Mentioning one more frugal measure of this kind, Gupta said that it has been shown in studies that cooking in iron vessel is beneficial for anemic people.
"When a cheap practice like cooking in iron vessel can benefit women, then why should not awareness about these traditional practices be created in the country, where more than 50 per cent women are anemic", he asks.
Be it indebted farmers who are unable to purchase costly
pesticides or over fifty per cent women in the country who are deficient in iron, all can benefit from the dissemination of beneficial knowledge needed to solve many big problems of the nation almost for free.
The book also addresses how one can observe creative and innovative ways of solving local problems through patient and respectful attention to small oddities.
"The grassroots innovators don't hang a board outside their home declaring their innovations. Many times people who have developed their innovative solutions don't even know what they have done is really innovative. Given that the sociocultural context in which people often laugh at someone who tries to break the existing mould of thinking, it is not surprising that people often deny when asked about any knowledge of local innovation," Gupta says.
The book, he says dwells upon the paradoxes involved in changing public policy or the outlook of institutions involved in supporting innovation.
Meanwhile, the Honey Bee Network, an organisation founded by Gupta reaches onto innovative masses of remote villages in country and helps them to get scientific validation, patents and form an entrepreneurial structure for their discoveries.