Amitabha Sadangi

IDEI - International Development Enterprises (India)
Year founded: 

IDEI designs and develops micro-irrigation technology that saves 50-70% of water use and increases crop yields by 30-40% in 226 districts of India and other parts of the world.

Focus: Agriculture, Rural Development, Water
Geographic Area of Impact: India, Africa, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan, Solomon Islands, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Azerbaijan
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 103, 688 (2010-11)
Annual Budget: US$ 6 Million (2011)
Recognition: Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum

Small farms comprise 70% of India’s total agricultural map, and about 60% of India’s cultivable land is rain fed and remains critically dependent on dry land farming. Most farmers lack any insurance against risks caused by monsoons and falling groundwater levels, as well as fluctuations in the international farm commodity markets. Despite 80-90% subsidies for irrigation and farm technologies, they remain out of reach for small farmers. These factors, coupled with severe water crises, often contribute to poverty and large-scale migration.

Innovations and Activities
Recognizing the high correlation between rural poverty and lack of access to water, IDEI designs, develops and delivers small plot irrigation technologies that are commercially viable, environment friendly, scaled down to fit one-tenth of a hectare plots, and cost 20% of competitive models. The technologies are sold through village supply chains to smallholder farmers at an unsubsidized market price. IDEI also provides technical, financial, consulting and business development services to its customers, enabling them to enter high-value commercial agriculture. As a result, smallholder farmers have been able to earn an additional average net income of US$ 400 annually, thus emerging from the poverty trap.

Over one million smallholder farmer families have been reached through IDEI low-cost irrigation technologies, such as the treadle pump and drip irrigation. A foot-operated treadle pump can irrigate small plots of land in regions with water tables higher than 8 metres; 58% of treadle pumps have been sold to farmers who had previously not been able to afford any irrigation technology and 42% have replaced diesel pumps, which require farmers to pay annual rentals of more than US$ 70. The drip irrigation system is promoted for farm families living in arid, water scarce regions. The technology saves 50-70% in water usage and increases crop yields by 30-40%. Seventy local manufacturers produce irrigation products sold under the KB brand by a network of nearly 5,100 retailers and village mechanics in 226 Indian districts.

Customer satisfaction is tracked through a management information system and feedback is incorporated to further refine the products. The treadle pump for example, has been customized and is available in several variations to meet regional farming requirements. IDEI also builds the supply chains and credit mechanisms necessary for farmers to succeed. An independent assessment conducted by IDEI in 2006 revealed a notable shift in India from subsistence to profitable small-scale commercial farming. Farmers now cultivate throughout the year, which contributes to increased food security and a decline in migration; 20% reported investing income in their children’s education and 15% have increased spending on family health. IDEI is now exporting its technologies to countries in Africa and Southeast Asia.

The Entrepreneur
Amitabha Sadangi was born in a village in the state of Orissa, India. He holds a law degree and a post-graduate degree in Labour and Social Welfare. While working for Oxfam, he focused many of his ideas around market-based programmes for poverty alleviation. He is co-Founder of a for-profit company, Global Easy Water Products, which allows private investment in the spread and replication of its irrigation technologies. He and IDEI have received several awards, including the Tech Museum BD Biosciences Economic Development Award (2010), the Zayed Future Energy Prize (2010), and the Ashden Outstanding Achievement Award (2009).