Adarsha Shivakumar is a passionate environmental enthusiast, cofounder and Executive Director of Project Jatropha. Adarsha’s sister Apoorva is the cofounder, Financial Director, Fund Raising Coordinator, and Educator of Project Jatropha. Together, they use tool of TEACH to improve the planet and the lives of rural Indian farmers.
Adarsha and Apoorva knew that environmental challenges like deforestation and greeenhouse gas emissions have to be addressed, for the sake of both past and future generations. “This is the only planet we have, and everything that has ever happened, has happened here,” says Adarsha.
The siblings researched how their impact could be most effective. After studying recent breakthoughs in biofuel technology, Adarsha and Apoorva began experimenting with a shrub called Jatropha, which when dried and processed, emits an oily byproduct that can be used for fuel. Jatropha seemed to be a perfect replacement for tobbaco crops, which rural Indian farmers rely on despite their harsh environmental costs. The siblings realized that they could TEACH Jatropha farming in India, and took the next logical step.
Adarsha and Apoorva called their venture Project Jatropha. Apoorva’s goal, “to help the needy kids, poor women and their families to become independent,” helps eliminate many of the root causes of environmental degradation. Adarsha’s goal, to “fight against climate change and poverty,” has been elevated by a sense of commitment that few adults, let alone adolescents, posses: “We have to do something, even if it’s something small.”
While Apoorva introduced Jatropha to farmers and built the trust of local women, Adarsha sought help from big partners like Labland Biotechs, Parivarhthana, and Sirona Cares Foundation. In addition, their newly established nonprofit organization assembled a leadership board of botanists, plant pathologists, biofuel consultants, directors of for-profit and nonprofit organizations, teachers, and more. So far, they have convinced many subsistence farmers that Jatropha is an economically sustainable crop with concrete environmental benefits.
Education is central to Project Jatropha's mission. Adarsha and Apoorva teach schoolchildren to grow and harvest their own crops, and about the relationship between humans and our environment. They continue that mission in the US with youth gardening projects in their own communities and were honored by President Obama. “Logically, one person can’t make a difference,” Adarsha says, “Well, kick logic to the curb, then! If you get enough people doing [the work], then we can do the impossible.”
Learn more at Project Jatropha.
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