A social entrepreneur at heart and an engineer by skill, 23-year-old Varun Raheja, hopes to create a better India by helping those who really build the country - the farmers.
During his college days, almost half of his friends belonged to agricultural families. He was struck by the reality that “no farmer wants his son to be a farmer” and he realised that in the future there would be a dearth of food producers in India.
His quest to convert waste to wealth and to help the farmers were the two major areas Varun started concentrating on and the result was Solar Dryer.
During his first year of graduation, Varun started experimenting with various methods to reuse and recycle waste along with converting home waste into compost. And to develop his research further he interned for three years under Padma Shri Janak Palta McGilligan at the Jimmy McGilligan Centre for Sustainable Development.
Following his love for nature and determined to resolve the woes of the farming community of India, Varun learnt the concept of cost effective solar dryers that would help prevent waste of produce cultivated by the hard working farmers, during his internship at the Jimmy McGilligan Centre for Sustainable Development.
Dr. Janak was a tough critic and she made it a point to make Varun excel in his work no matter how small it was. He was exposed to the problems related to farmers at the ground level and searched for a technology which could solve the farmer’s woes. He worked on three projects during his internship and one of them was the solar dryer, a technology developed by German Scientists.
The solar tunnel dryer, as re-conceptualized by Varun is much cheaper than its competitor and easily foldable to carry around.
In 2019, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognized this innovation as an income-sensitive, climate-smart storage technology to achieve sustainable development goals. Also, in 2018, he was awarded by Dr. Shirin Gadhia Sustainability Award.