Ronit Jain is fully aware of the issues impacting India. His family is from the Rajasthan area of the country and the 17-year-old would frequently visit and interact with the community there.
“It’s no secret that India’s air isn’t the cleanest,” he said.
Coupled with this problem is the extreme poverty farmers face due to crop failure and excessive taxation. In 2014, of the 131,666 reported suicides in India, 5,650 were farmers, according to the National Crime Records Bureau of India.
“It’s the largely untold story,” Jain said. “There’s a huge number of inhumane poverty impacting farmers throughout India. Again, this was something I wanted to tackle.”
With the two issues in mind, Jain sought out a solution — bridging the gap to solve both air pollution and farmer poverty. The senior always had a fascination with science, and the intersections between environmental science and social change.
Jain spent time conducting research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, examining the impact of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) found in lakes and rivers worldwide. He uncovered novel evidence that linked the chemicals to malformation in fish.
Faced with a two-prong problem, he knew he wanted to approach it the way he knew best.
“I approached the issues like any research problem in a lab,” he said. “I used science as a way to come up with an innovative solution.”
And his answer was found in the environment. It populated parks and lined city streets.
Founded in 2016, SproutingIndia provides Ardu trees planted by farmers, who are paid for their labor. And the trees, planted on farmers’ plots of land, have many benefits when cared for. They increase soil fertility, use leaves to create livestock fodder and when planted along the border of properties help to deter animals from entering the fields. The trees also work to clean the air.
The organization has been successful, Jain said. Over the last two years, more than 600 trees have been planted and dozens of farmers impacted in the Rajasthan area.
“I think it’s important for youth to get involved in communities,” Jain said, “whether in a local or global sense.”
To learn more about the nonprofit go online to www.sproutingindia.org.