Mushtaq Ahmed Dar, a grassroots innovator from the Anantnag district in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, has brought out a series of innovations for making the processing of walnuts easier and more efficient, as well as a device for climbing poles.
The innovations for walnut processing include a Walnut Cracking Machine’ and also the Walnut peeler, washer, and sorter to streamline walnut production and help reduce the drudgery of people involved in walnut processing, a niche occupation primarily in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and also observed in parts of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
These have also empowered the people involved in the occupation by giving them the capability to supply fresh kernels to domestic and world markets by cracking walnut of varied types like paper-shelled, thin-shelled, medium-shelled, and hard-shelled, efficiently and effectively. This helps them grow their business by even exporting and marketing the edible fruit inside and not the shelled walnut, thereby making the final product more attractive (effortless consumption). Besides, it has reduced the risk of the shells cracking and flying during processing, thereby posing a danger to the eyes. The technology has also evinced interest from international markets, particularly from Afghanistan, during India - Afghanistan Trade and Investment Show in the year 2017.
The genesis of his other innovation - Pole-Pro, is rooted in the complex geography of Kashmir Valley, where carrying bulky ladders for routine repairs delayed the outcome every time. The Pole-Pro solution eliminated the need for bulky ladders in most situations. It helped first-hand diagnosis of problems in electricity, telecom, and other poles with safety protocols. Today, the technology is available in market through Anventa Gadgetix Pvt Ltd, a start-up recognized by the Government of India (DIPP25154) and incubated by NIFientreC (NIF Incubation and Entrepreneurship Council), a Technology Business Incubator (TBI) hosted by NIF and supported by DST.
These innovations and many more in which Mushtaq collaborated with other innovators have led to two start-ups recognized by DPIIT. Supported by National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India, an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, Mushtaq’s serial innovations were mentioned by Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor of J&K Shri Manoj Sinha in December 2021’s “Awaam ki Awaaz”. Walnut Cracker has remained the most notable innovation, which is today the foundation of another start-up recognized by Government of India called Rafiq Innovations Pvt Ltd (DIPP8028), based in Anantnag. It is being incubated by NIFientreC.
Mushtaq Ahmed Dar is continuing to explore and come up with more innovations. NIF has supported him with Value Addition and Validation, Product Development, IP protection, Technology Transfer, and also a Community Workshop so that several innovators like him in the region could leverage the facility and create possibilities for an “it-situ” incubation in forthcoming years. Additionally, the enterprises taking forward Mushtaq’s innovations were supported with entity incorporation, start-up registration and also provided various Business Development opportunities.