Energy Conservation & Non-conventional Energy
Parishad Chulha: IRTC has developed a fuel efficient wood burning Chulha for use in kitchens. It has a fuel efficiency of 28% as certified by CPRI, Bangalore in comparison with 9% for conventional Chulha. This has reduced the firewood expenditure to 1/3 of the normal. The new model has the additional advantage that it is “smokeless” and therefore hazard free. This model was approved by MNES and is being propagated by the Governmental agency ANERT throughout the state. IRTC has also developed a community Chulha for cooking in large quantity in schools, hotels and hostels. This was also well received by the society.
The Hot Box: Another intervention that IRTC has made in the field of energy saving is the development of the Hot Box. This device made of polystyrene can save up to 90 ml of kerosene or 80 g of LPG per cooking of 1kg rice. This energy saving device is also being widely accepted by the rural people of Kerala. IRTC is now in the process of giving a latex coating to the Hot Box to make it more attractive and durable. Though the development of the Hot Box was an in house project, DST supported the latex coating part.
The Biomass gasifier: The suitability of using coconut fronds as biomass in the gasifier model developed by IISc, Bangalore, has been successfully tried out at IRTC. The producer gas generated in the gasifier can be used 1) as fuel for burning using a suitable burner in gas-fired kiln, or 2) for producing electricity in a diesel generator. The research team at IRTC is attempting to develop a suitable burner and storage system for domestic application of producer gas, with the assistance of IISc.
Electronic Choke/Ballast and CFL: The energy division of IRTC has developed electronic ballasts and CFLs which meet ISI specifications. They have also given training to entrepreneur groups, especially women, for their production. IRTC has also conducted a study on the impact of high harmonics and low power factor on the distribution network, in collaboration with the state electricity board (KSEB).
Power line mapping and energy audit: IRTC has developed a method and related software for reducing the electrical distribution losses and distribution system optimisation through power line mapping. This was successfully tried out in a few local bodies. A package for energy audit of small and medium establishments is nearing completion.
Local Level Planning and Development
Participatory Resource Mapping: A model for studying the physical and natural resources of a village was developed by KSSP during the 80’s. IRTC modified this by providing the scientific inputs with the help of Centre for Earth Science Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, but retaining the participative aspect. Based on this model, Resource Maps of hundreds of Panchayaths have been prepared as a supporting database for developmental plans. Many scientific institutes like the Land Use Board, Information Kerala Mission, The COSTFORD, etc. have used this model with minor modifications.
Watershed Based Planning: The importance of watershed based planning has gained wide acceptance. The Rural Development Department and other agencies supporting Rural Development are insisting on development programmes based on watershed. Govt: of Kerala has issued instructions to local bodies to frame their annual plans in agriculture and allied sectors on watershed basis. It was under these circumstances that IRTC entered into the arena of watershed based plan preparation to help the local bodies. Our past experience as a training centre on watershed development under the Peoples Plan Campaign and our vision of participatory development gave us enough confidence. Now the model we developed has been successfully tried out in about 50 Panchayaths.
Water Quality Studies and Water Conservation
Water quality studies: IRTC has a laboratory well equipped to analyse the quality of drinking water. This facility is extensively used by the local people. We have initiated detailed studies on the fluoride contamination of the drinking water sources in Palakkad district.
Roof water harvesting: Though Kerala has good rainfall, many parts of the state, especially districts like Palakkad experience severe drought and shortage of drinking water during summer. In order to address this issue, Ferro cement structures to store rainwater collected during monsoon for use during summer are being constructed. IRTC took a lead in this as part of a research project and is now giving technical support to local self-government bodies for installing such units for households and public institutions.
Soap and Toiletries
Hand made soap: Coconut oil is one of the principal agricultural products of Kerala. We have adapted a methodology for making toilet and washing soaps by the cold process using coconut oil. Making use of the production facilities set up at IRTC rural women are trained in hand made soap production. Quality raw materials are also made available at reasonable prices. Thousands of women trained in this manner, by IRTC and later by various other agencies, are now engaged in soap production as a livelihood option.
Toothpaste and other items: Preliminary trials for the production of toothpaste as a small scale venture to be taken up for distribution by local units is successful. Technology is being optimised. Machinery is being installed and the production unit is getting ready.
Agriculture and Allied Areas
Aquaculture: A Chinese hatchery, rearing unit and related facilities have been set up with the help of DST, Govt: of India. Manpower in the fisheries sector is available with the institution. 3-5 lakh fresh water fish seeds are supplied annually to local entrepreneurs. Training cum production facility for ornamental fishes is operational and 3 batches have already been trained.
Mushroom: A full-fledged facility for production of oyster mushroom spawn has been set up as part of a DST project. A package of practices and production protocol have been developed for mushroom. Training is being given to batches of 15-20 women entrepreneurs every month for the last three years Quality spawns are being supplied to the trained mushroom producers at an average rate of 1000-1200 packets a month.
Rabbitry: A rabbit rearing unit and training facility were set up in 1997 with the support of DST, Govt: of India. Training is being given to take up rabbit rearing as an income generating activity. Also Young once are supplied to the farmers on demand.
Nursery: A nursery and seed production facility aimed at supplying quality seeds and planting materials for farmers have been set up.Production practices of different medicinal plants have been formulated. Training in Nursery practices is being given frequently.
Azolla Cultivation: IRTC has facilities for culture of Azolla, which is used as food for fish, rabbit, cattle. It is also used as an enrichment in composting and in the manure. Training is given regularly. Cultured Azolla is also being supplied.
Waste Management and Sanitation
Windrow composting: On the basis of experiments conducted at IRTC a model suited to Kerala conditions for converting municipal solid waste to compost by windrow composting has been developed. This model was successfully implemented in Chalakudy municipality, Kerala. Many of the small and medium towns of Kerala are now implementing this model, with IRTC providing technical support.
Vermi composting: Domestic waste, garbage and other vegetable wastes can be converted to valuable organic manure by vermi composting. IRTC has developed techniques for enhancing the nitrogen content of vermi compost. Farmers are given training at IRTC on vermi composting and also worms to initiate their activity.
Sanitation in waterlogged areas: A closet developed by ITDG for use in waterlogged areas where conventional models failed was modified by IRTC and made more user friendly and acceptable to the local people. This modified set-up has been successfully tried out in Kumarakam Panchayath of Kottayam District.