Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: Dharambir Food Processing was among the six companies that were picked by Villgro Innovations Foundation and Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) in 2020 under the Powering Livelihoods programme to boost India’s rural economy.
The company intends to export its food processing machine to around 100 countries in 5 years. (Image: nif)
Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: Haryana-based farmer Dharambir Kamboj doesn’t have an engineering or management degree from Ivy League institutes yet he has been an inventor who is enabling rural entrepreneurship and employment for thousands of people. Kamboj, 58, has been dabbling with the manufacturing of different machines and equipment to ease the time and effort required to perform unique tasks. Known for his first-of-its-kind portable multipurpose food processing machine to process herbs, fruits, seeds, vegetables, Kamboj had his first tryst with invention back in 1975 when he was in sixth grade.
“I first made a smokeless stove. I and my friend used to bunk school and work on different experiments. I never had any formal training in designing or manufacturing anything. Since childhood I used to think of building something unique,” Kamboj told Financial Express Online. Emergency light, design of a borewell machine, earthquake clock, were among approximately 40 experiments that Kamboj tried had his hand on so far.
Kamboj had to pull a rickshaw in Delhi for around two years to support his family before a road accident in 1987 forced him to take farming again in his village Damla in Haryana. In his interaction with farmers during a visit to Ajmer back in 2007, Kamboj realised the challenge in processing gooseberries (amla) and extracting rose water from roses.
“I thought of making a machine that can do both with lesser time and effort. While I made this (food processing) machine but the quality wasn’t right in the beginning. There weren’t such machines in the market at that time. In 2012, with the help of the National Innovation Foundation, we introduced a new design and model to improve the quality of the machine. Today, let’s say, to extract orange juice, the machine is capable of extracting around 200 litres juice in just an hour,” said Kamboj who could study only till 10th grade. It took him over eight months to come out with the first prototype of the machine.
The machine also acts as a big pressure cooker with temperature control and auto cut-off facility apart from other functions such as pulverizing, mixing, steaming, pressure-cooking, and juice, oil or gel extracting. The machine was patented and validated by National Innovation Foundation.
In 2017, Kamboj incorporated his company Dharambir Food Processing Pvt Ltd. While he has clients across India and around 15 countries Nigeria, Kenya, Nairobi, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and others, there have been around 16 companies that approached Kamboj for buying the technology to manufacture machines in exchange for a royalty. “But I wanted to do business my way. Sona Koyo Steering Systems (now known as JTEKT India ), Patanjali and others had approached us to make these machines,” he added.
Dharambir Food Processing was among the six companies that were picked by Villgro Innovations Foundation and Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) in 2020 under the Powering Livelihoods programme to boost India’s rural economy. According to a CEEW statement during the launch of the programme, the Rs 22 crore programme provides capital and technical support to Indian enterprises working on clean energy-based livelihoods solutions. The initiative had also offered a cumulative emergency funding of Rs 1 crore to six selected enterprises to help them tide over the Covid crisis.
“We had very less production before this programme. It increased from three-four machines in a month to 15-20. Our turnover also increased. Last year we achieved turnover of around Rs 1 crore. They (programme) helped us with mentoring and guided us on increasing production through ways such as solar-powered machines. Villgro also supported us with around Rs 55 lakh during Covid. Through social media, we were able to train multiple people on operating the machine and generating employment,” said Kamboj’s son and Director Prince Kamboj.
The company intends to export its food processing machine to around 100 countries in 5 years and has a target of increasing turnover to Rs 2 crore this financial year and around Rs 10 crore by FY27. So far, Kamboj has sold around 900 machines that had provided employment to around 8,000 people.