Skip navigation
Share via:

Pitch

Solvify is a biodegradable super-absorbent polymer; when mixed with the soil it can reduce water and fertilizer requirements in agriculture.


Description

Summary

Despite the modern research in agricultural practices the sector still consumes 70% of the global freshwater supply putting more strain on the diminishing water resources leading to water scarcity which in turn poses a problem of increasing global food insecurity. To solve this problem, we have developed “Solvify” a technologically enhanced cost-effective superabsorbent polymer which can absorb water up to 1000 times of its own weight. When mixed in soil just up to 10%, intelligent polymer releases water and macronutrients under the dryness gradient of the soil created by the absorption of water by plants and crops as per their requirement hence, cuts the requirement of fertilizer by 50% and that of water by 70% (http://solvify.org/). Solvify is a superlative form of drip irrigation system as it does not require any IoT support and power like the conventional system. The phenomenon is governed by the concentration difference laws where the release of water is controlled by pore size and porosity structure.  It becomes part of the soil, makes it fertile, and undergo biodegradation within the record time of 6 months without formation of toxic species. Solvify has even shown high absorption capacity when the water is saline or hard and is highly optimized for absorbency under load (AUL). It has the ability to turn barren land into fertile and hence saving millions of lives globally by putting an end to water scarcity and food insecurity.


Is this proposal for a practice or a project?

Project


What actions do you propose?

Using The Product: Usage of Solvify on fields and farms is as simple and easy as for the conventional solid fertilizers such as Urea etc. The farmer just has to sprinkle it on the field and water the crops during the whole season for just once or twice depending on the average requirement per hectare for the whole season and Solvify will retain and lock this water allowing the roots to take up water from the swollen particle as per the requirement, as the particle releases the absorbed water according to the dryness gradient established in the soil as the plants take up water, hence reducing the water usage up to 70%. Solvify has strong adhesion to the soil and hence doesn’t lump together. It has wonderful field test results, so its application is easier and practical. As most of the fields globally are based on a 6 months crop-cycle, Solvify has been made to biodegrade in 6 to 12 months; as a result it will not damage the machinery used at harvesting.

Revenue Strategy: We aim to provide Solvify to the farmers without charging the prices in LDCs; our aim is to give it to the farmers first so they can grow their crops, and since the product will boost their yields and reduce farming costs, they can then pay for the product they used after they earn profits from their surplus crops; this will make dissemination of the product in these LDCs very accessible and affordable to these farmers.

Marketing and Dissemination: However, convincing these farmers to use the product in the first place will be a challenge as well. To tackle that, we propose to buy land in the targeted regions and set up model farms where solvify will be used on the same land and using the same irrigation water as the other farmers. Seeing the growth and boost due to our solution, we believe the farmers will agree to use Solvify on their farms since physical and tangible evidence for the efficiency of Solvify will be provided to them in the form of these proposed model farms.

Long Term Plans: The first mass production plant will be set up in the first targeted LDC. We aim to expand these plants, start export to neighboring LDCs, and then expand and build the production facilities in the other LDCs as well so the product can be produced indigenously in all targeted LDCs as a long term goal of our implementation.


Who will take these actions?

Solvify: While we will be producing and disseminating Solvify as a private company, we will be partnering up with various NGOs and IGOs working within the region:

Global Agriculture and Food Security Program: GAFSP has pledged billions of dollars to be spent on building sustainable farming systems in LDCs. Our hope is to partner up with GAFSP and build Solvify’s presence and network within the region using the resources at their disposal. With globally influential figures being patrons of this huge fund, we believe by partnering up, the two organizations can move these LDCs towards more sustainable and prosperous agriculture.

Food and Agriculture Organization for the UN: FAO can be a huge technical partner for the implementation of our solution; the organization boasts technical expertise in the areas of agriculture and food, and can thus be vital partners for penetrating into the targeted LDCs, understanding their agricultural practices and help complete the R&D of Solvify.

Local/International Microfinance Organizations: due to the nature of our implementation model, microfinancing will be of importance; these organizations will be of importance when clients in these LDCs might need small loans or banking services in these areas to expand their agricultural practices and implement Solvify to its maximum capacity. These small loans will play a huge role in changing the agricultural landscape of these LDCs and boost agro-based economies.


Where will these actions be taken?

Our plan is to target the LDCs in Africa. Our revenue model is made keeping in mind the low income of farmers in these countries and we believe our product will have the most impact on the welfare of the farmers in these countries.

Our first target is Ethiopia, a country that is primarily agro-based in terms of its economy but farming is done mostly on small scales and suffers from impacts of climate change, like droughts and changing rainfall patterns. Another reason to target Ethiopia first is because data about the country is available in abundance and the presence of organizations working to improve the agricultural conditions in the country and pull it out of poverty and food insecurity is widespread, hence our data quantifiable data about the impact of Solvify’s first implementation is based on data from Ethiopia.

However, following the years after setting up production in Ethiopia, we plane on moving on to other LDCs in the region first by exporting Solvify there, and then setting up indigenous production plants in the country. The next country to target will be decided based on the impact data from Ethiopia, and deciding which LDC in the region would be the most feasible to move into and would have the greatest impact from using Solvify.


In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.

Ethiopia


Country 2

No country selected


Country 3

No country selected


Country 4

No country selected


Country 5

No country selected


Impact/Benefits


What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

Adaptation: Agriculture in LDCs is primarily rain fed and is hence highly vulnerable to climate change. The IPCC projections in the "Global Warming of 1.5°C" special report show that African countries will experience the most severe dryness and will have an increase in the maximum length of dry period and a decrease in the length of wet spells, but an increase in the strength of rains. This means the region will become even more water scarce and agriculture will become less reliable. Solvify's ability to lock water into the soil however will make these regions more adapted to these changes brought about by climate change as the water from heavier rainfalls will get stored into the polymer and will allow the farmers to carry out agricultural practices in affected regions without relying on unpredictable rainfall to irrigate the land. Reducing the water requirements by 70%, we see Solvify as an ideal solution to make these affected countries more adapted to climate change.

GHG Emissions: Coming to reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, let us take how much impact the implementation of Solvify in a country like Ethiopia can have. According to the Green House Gas Emissions factsheet for Ethiopia by the US AID, roughly 86.01 metric tons of CO2 emissions come from the agricultural sector. With fertilizer production and use being the main culprit behind agricultural emissions, it would be a safe assumption, while keeping figures conservative, that around 60% of these agricultural emissions come from fertilizers, if not more. This means that at least around 51.6 metric ton CO2 emissions come fertilizer production and use. If Solvify is implemented, fertilizer requirements will be cut down by 50%, and this figure can be brought down to around half its value, meaning that around 25.8 metric tons of CO2 can be stopped from entering the atmosphere and adding to the greenhouse effect.


What are other key benefits?

Water Scarcity: The decreased water requirements due to implementation of Solvify not only help the regions become adapted climate change and dryness, but also help alleviate the stress on fresh water resources which can help fight off water scarcity in the region.

Economic Growth: With reduced use of fertilizer and increased crop yield, the farmers who implement Solvify will benefit economically, as well as socially as the work burden on the farm can be reduced by up to 4000 hours a year, as the time spent watering the field and applying the fertilizer throughout the cultivation cycle becomes almost non-existent as both of these processes become a one-time process for every farming cycle.

Soil Salinity: The ability of the polymer to lock the water means that the water cannot leach and raise the underground water table; as a result the risk of salination of soil is reduced.

Reclamation of Land: A variation of the product can be used to turn desertified land into an arable area; the ability of the polymer to lock water and release it can be used to first grow durable plants over a patch of such desertified land which can then be slowly cultivated over a course of time to reclaim it. This means that people in the region will have more arable land per person available and more food can be grown to alleviate food insecurity and shortage.


Costs/Challenges


What are the proposal’s projected costs?

The cost of R&D and first implementation on model farms, including logistics of employees’ salaries for first 24 months, buying the land, handling it, and labor costs: $300,000

The cost of setting up a mass production plant in Ethiopia: $300,000

The cost of producing and distributing the first for-sale stock at the 36-month mark to 200,000 farms: $5,000,000

That brings the total initial investments needed to kickstart the project to around $5,600,000

After these initial costs, we believe the plant will start to become self-sufficient as the consumers start to pay for the product they used from their increased crop yield. After the first taregeted 250,000 farmers pay for the used product, the venture will make a profit of about $1.75 million. After that, our expansion strategies will depend mostly on how much the user base grows and reliant we will be on the revenue from the sales of Solvify.

The main challenge in the implementation will be getting the farmers to adopt the solution on as many farms as possible; with the innovative idea to pay for the product after use and by using model farms in the region for marketing and practical demonstrations, we believe this challenge will be overcome.


Timeline

The timeline begins as soon as Solvify starts to get funding for implementation in Africa;

24 Months: The R&D on the product is complete and a production plant is set up in Ethiopia. Model farms are ready to be tested on attract local farmers to try the product.

36 Months: The model farm pilot is complete along with impacting the first adopter who agreed to use the product based on results prior to model farm testing in the region. This is the first real world impact of Solvify.

48 Months: The new adopters after the model farm results have completed two farming cycles using Solvify; increased crop production and reduced farming costs for the people. The increase in income is used by the farmers to pay for Solvify; revenue is being generated. Production is increased to expand consumer base. 250,000 farmers have been impacted. Solvify is exported to other LDCs for the time being as well.

60 Months: 100% increase in capacity and consumer base. Solvify is adopted widely and revenues for the farmers have increased by around 30%. The use of microfinance for acquiring Solvify earlier has made famers consider microfinance as a way to expand their agriculture in other ways as well.

72 Months: Production plans set up in the second LDC. Increased production to accommodate increasing demand both in the two countries and to export to other LDCs.

Short Term: We aim to have expanded to 3 LDCs including Ethiopia after the first 15 years of our product's implementation., with the aim to have impacted nearly 10 millions farms in the targeted LDCs 20 years after launching the project in Ethiopia. This would lead to major chunks of the region becoming food secure and roughly 22% of agricultural land area in these 3 countries combined to be adapted to climate change, while reducing GHG emissions in the region.

Medium Term: By 50 years, we aim to have expanded into 12 LDCs in addition to Ethiopia, and have impacted around 50 million farms in the combined region of 13 targeted LDCs. We aim to have also recovered 100,000 hectares of desertified land in the region.

Long Term: Long term goal is to provide access to Solvify to every farm around the globe, impacting around a 500 million farms, saving thousands of trillions of liters of water from being wasted, and reclaiming millions of hectares of land around the globe in the process.


About the author(s)

Hasham Tanveer: Hasham has just graduated high school in Pakistan and is going to college at Drexel University in USA, later in 2019. He is one of he co-founders of the startup, Solvify. Hasham had this to say about his journey: "Being born in a privileged environment, nothing can motivate you unless you put your feet in the shoes of those for whom, everyday life is not about thriving, it is about surviving, a moment of truth that motivated me, an incident; when two years back, I faced severe water shortage for a month, made me realize the hardships which 2.2 billion people have to face every day. While learning about the deaths of children due to water and food shortage in Thar, Pakistan. A severe drought due to which the crop production declined, causing a famine. After that with the help of my wonderful team; Hassan, Usama, Shayan I started working on a Super-Absorbent-Polymer at UET Lahore. Finally, after two years of hard work, we came up with the super-absorbent which can revolutionize the conventional agricultural practices."

Hassan Sohail: Hassan is in the senior year of his high school in Pakistan and a co-founder of the Solvify startup. He started working on the Solvify following a water crisis in the mega city of Karachi back in 2015, which led to circumstances where he would not have access to water at home for weeks, and would have to either travel to areas of the city with water to fetch and ration it, or pay significant sums of money to hire private water tanker services that would supply water in large trucks to different parts of the city. Hassan is an avid science promoter in the country's high school circles and is currently in the country's top 50 ranking for the screening of Pakistan's national team for the International Physics Olympiad. Hassan wants to pursue his majors in Biological Engineering, an inter-disciplinary science field that he believes has the potential to revolutionize the way our world works.


Related Proposals


References

Reference to quoted reports and data:

: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?page=view&type=255&nr=1357

https://tradingeconomics.com/ethiopia/agricultural-land-percent-of-land-area-wb-data.html

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.CON.FERT.ZS?locations=AF-BD-MM-CD-ET-GH-IN-KE-KG-LR-MW-MZ-NP-NG-PS-PK-RW-SL-SO-ZA-TJ-TZ-UG-YE-ZM-ZW

https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/feature/2017/03/17/drought-africa-2017

https://www.climatelinks.org/resources/greenhouse-gas-emissions-factsheet-ethiopia

http://solvify.org/