Omega Ecotech Products India Pvt Ltd is in the mission to improve the technical benchmarks on organic waste (solid/ liquid) management and on farming sciences & resource management. Omega Ecotech is under the able leadership and direction of its Managing Director Dr.Joshy V. Cherian, a renowned scientist specialized in Environmental and soil sciences. Dr. Joshy V. Cherian is also an expert in organic farming, farm development, organic inputs (liquid & solid), waste management, etc. Omega Ecotech has manufacturing plants in Saravanampatti (Coimbatore) and in Anthiyur (Pollachi) that produce different organic inputs and waste management inputs. Omega Ecotech introduces revolutionary technologies and products through its continued research on waste management and farming verticals.
Dr.Joshy’s journey in the formation and the scaling up of Omega Ecotech
Dr. Joshy is the Promoter & Managing Director of Omega Ecotech Products India Pvt.Ltd. An active organic farmer and farm consultant, he is also the founder chairman of the Indian Organic Farmers Producer Company Ltd. & facilitator of Anthiyur Wasteland Development Project and was the former technical advisor for Tamil Nadu Co-operative State Agriculture and Rural Development Bank, Chennai.
He has completed his MSc in Botany from University of Kerala and holds a Ph.D in Environmental Science from Bharathiar University, Coimbatore. His specialisation is in organic farm management & organic waste management. He has also won the “Young Scientist Award” in 2003 and received “ROTARY INTERNATIONAL AWARD” for a Community based wasteland development programme.
His journey towards waste management though, has been far from straight and narrow. After completing his Masters, Dr. Joshy tried his luck in Civil Services, but didn’t make it through the interviews. He also took the law exam and became a lawyer. It was also not meant to be. Within a year, he found that he was bored. He then took the UGC exam and became a professor. He soon found that this job was not challenging him either.
At this point he and his father, a farmer, decided to buy seemingly fertile land near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. It soon became clear that the rich black color of the soil that they assumed to be on account of carbon content was actually because of Aluminium Oxide. In addition, the soil was mostly clay and the water saline. There were many other adverse conditions such as windiness and low rainfall.
However, what appeared to be really bad luck at that time, in fact turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It set him on the path of working with soil health. He noticed that there were plenty of coir industries in that area that generated a lot of coir pith. The pith was considered as waste product and burnt creating a huge amount of air pollution in the area. Dr. Joshy found a way to clean and convert the coir pith into an effective and natural soil conditioner.
Dr.Joshy got an enquiry from an Australian company to convert the clean coir pith into compressed bricks and supply it in their brand name in 1997, as a home garden input. Joshy could successfully develop the product in 6 months’ time. He also developed a machine to make the product. NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) came forward to fund this project. By end of 1997 the factory was up and production could be started. The product was well received in Australia.
To meet the enhanced demand, Joshy and his wife incorporated a Pvt. Ltd.Company namely Omega Ecotech products India Pvt. Ltd. and put up a proposal to State Bank of India. Since it was an innovative project, ministry of science and technology was also approached and they gave additional support through Technology Development board. Ministry of Agriculture, Govt.of India also supported the project by providing back ended subsidy.
Excited with the success of coir pith project, NABARD offered Dr. Joshy a project to develop 300 acres of wasteland belonging to 30 farmers in the village near Pollachi under the aegis of Wasteland Development Programme. Dr. Joshy and the community were able to effectively solve the various challenges offered by the land and planted Chikoo and Amla plants and converted the land which was lying idle for 30 years into fruit gardens. Large amount of composted coir pith was used to convert the soil before the plantations of fruits.
However, adversity struck both the projects. Coir pith products that were cheaper and poorer in quality started becoming available in the market. This led to a loss of reputation of Indian cocopeat bricks and resulted in a price crash. At the plantation front, just as the plants started taking root there was a drought that lasted for 2 years. The plants did not take hold well and the farmers were worried about their loan repayments. In an unexpected and fortuitous twist, farmers were granted a huge reprieve when Mr. Karunanidhi’s Government came to power in 2006. One of their very first acts in power was to waive off all the cooperative farmer loans.
In the meantime, in 2003, Joshy was invited by organic farmers in the area to found and chair the first ever Farmer Producer Company, Indian Organic Farmers Producers Company Limited (IOFPCL). Up until this time, organic farmers did not have access to marketing and production resources. IOFPCL was founded and incorporated under the Companies Act of 1956, to take on the challenges faced by member farmers in the production and marketing of Organic and Fairtrade certified products in the domestic and international markets. It has over 5000 farmer members. One major achievement of IOFPCL was to develop the protocol for making quality cocoa beans and supply this to a swiss chocolate company and they launched an Indian brand chocolate with this cocoa.
As Chair of IOFPCL, he was connected to and was approached by Nitta Gelatin, a multinational company making gelatin from animal bone to solve the problem of sludge, a by-product of the gelatin making process. The sludge was literally and figuratively raising a huge stink and people in the nearby communities were up in arms about the smell. Dr. Joshy developed a solution to this issue by mixing the sludge with the cocopeat based aerobic composting media which is a combination of clean coir pith and naturally occurring aerobic composting microbes. This composting media could immediately remove the stink and hasten the disintegration process of the sludge. Thus was born Bioclean Composting Medium, the flagship product of the company. Bioclean provided the platform to make a foray into the waste management business.
Omega Ecotech has one manufacturing plant in Coimbatore producing various certified organic inputs like Bio fertilizers, Bio fungicide, Bio pesticides, organic growth promoters and microbes for organic waste composting. Another plant is in Anthiyur (Pollachi Taluk) manufacturing the aerobic composting medium namely Bioclean as Brick, Block and in bags. This plant is also manufacturing organic manure.
Waste is throwing up various types of challenges every day. The Kerala Government stopped collection of Biowaste from individual homes and wanted a solution for home composting. A pilot was initiated in 2000 houses in Trivandrum city using Bioclean. Based on this Pilot a unique 3 tier aerobic composting bin was developed for home composting. Bioclean along with the 3 tier bin provides a hassle-free composting experience in home composting. Kerala Government is now subsidizing this bin to the beneficiaries. Bioclean along with larger containers are used by various apartments in Bangalore for Biowaste composting.
Dr. Joshy Cherian is involved in a collaborate research programme with waste management department of Cornell University Ithacca, New York in organic waste management.
Bioclean is now being used for managing various other wastes like agro industry waste, fish waste, chicken slaughter waste, Market waste and for converting all these problem wastes to quality compost. Dr.Joshy is now involved in developing solutions for different types of organic waste management and soil enhancement initiatives across the world.
Innovations in pipeline
Urban Gardening Initiatives
In order to enhance health culture among the citizens, Dr.Joshy’s team is promoting effective home gardens. The key lacking aspect is the unavailability of quality gardening inputs and relevant technology information. Dr.Joshy’s team is developing range of solutions in this regard and they have already started rolling out these products.
Ready Solutions for bulk waste generators
According to Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, a bulk waste generator has to segregate waste at source. They must also ensure the scientific processing of biodegradable waste to produce manure or biogas by setting up compositing units on their premises. Dr.Joshy’s team is developing unique, user friendly solutions that are cost effective too for bulk waste generators.
Kids – Composting and Growing Learning Kit
Since current generation kids are addicted to electronic gadgets and junk foods, Dr.Joshy’s team is trying to divert the attention to a healthier habit. They have developed a composting learning kit that can be used by the parents and the schools for inculcating a good practice in the field of organic waste management and home garden among kids.