Aranyo Ray, 17, of Kolkata, a Class XI student at Kalyani Public School, developed two safe pesticides, called NanoCide and SoyaSafe, to help jute and soyabean farmers defend their crops against pests and fungal diseases. Both NanoCide and SoyaSafe can be produced from agricultural waste. As most of the farmers are from marginalized communities, Aranyo has optimized their cost to make his pesticides more affordable and sustainable. When Aranyo read about farmers getting sick due to overuse of pesticides, he realized that whenever a toxic pesticide is banned, another equally toxic alternative is introduced in the market. He decided to disrupt this trend and contacted a scientist who allowed him to work in his laboratory and guided him on the way forward. Aranyo started researching on NanoCide in early 2018 and subsequently conducted participatory and field studies with over 1,100 farmers.
SoyaSafe was tested with more than 300 farmers in early 2019. He now plans to test NanoCide on various crops, as well as recruit more farmers for newer trials. His products and social entrepeneurship have received international recognition, which helped him secure his first deal with a local chemical company to mass-produce NanoCide and distribute it at subsidized rates. Aranyo believes that it's time we acknowledge the role and contribution of farmers in our lives, and that their health and the environment should not be compromised.