NID Graduates Innovate Water-Resistant Shoes for Farmers
Water-Resistant Shoes for Farmers – Three National Institute of Design (NID) Ahmedabad graduates travelled to the Maharashtra villages of Wathar and Nanded in April 2018. Nakul Lathkar (30), Vidyadhar Bhandare (31) and Santosh Kocherlakota (31) made the decision to live among rural farmers for six months in order to better understand the difficulties the community faced.
They selected Nanded and Wathar because of the harsh climates in those regions. Nakul and Vidyadhar might stay with relatives who lived nearby for a few months. They did this after we graduated so they could comprehend real-world issues and provide innovative, user-friendly solutions.
The group would rise early, go with the farmers to the fields, and observe them labour.
Finally, they reduced it to five pressing issues that they believed needed to be solved, and they began by focusing on the first issue—shoes for farmers.
They spoke with various farmers over the course of those six months and observed a recurring issue: none of them were wearing the proper footwear. All of the farmers wore no shoes while working in a muddy field or under the blazing heat. As a result, their feet developed extensive cracks and were more vulnerable to fungal infections and snake bites.
After doing more research, the three realized in 2018 that the footwear available on the market was improper for the farmers in those regions. Gumboots are one type of leather substitute, although they are not suitable for all weather conditions. Additionally, pants must be worn over the boots. Although there are shoes appropriate for some farmers, they are not long-lasting.
Water-Resistant Shoes for Farmers
To work comfortably in both seasons, the farmers needed footwear that would keep their feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Another important factor that needed to be taken into account was the product’s price.
They travelled to numerous states across the country, including Kerala and Karnataka, in search of a natural material to sew shoes with. Banana and water hyacinth were among the 20 various natural fibres that they initially experimented with. Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons, those were failures.
By the end of 2018, the group discovered Deccani wool while searching for desi fibres in a village close to Hyderabad. Ghongadi, or thick blankets, are created with this. In addition to being a versatile material, wool adapts to its environment by becoming thicker or thinner, making it suited for many climates.
The group submitted an application for incubation at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in April 2019. The startup was first given access to pre-incubation for three months. Additionally, they had to show that the product was deserving of the current market.
Thus, 30 pairs of Indian wool shoes with rubber soles were made. The wool served as a barrier to keep out small rocks or sand particles.
Despite being water-resistant, the material will get sodden after prolonged exposure to water. At Chennai’s Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), each of these factors was investigated. After getting approval, the sneaker was sent to Wathar to be sold. Farmers recognized the material and were anxious to get a pair of shoes.