Mansukhbhai’s innovative idea, Cotton Stripper has brought sea change in the lives of cotton farmers in Gujarat. He has been accoladed by several national and international institutions for his innovation. Mohd Mustaquim Reports
Cotton farmers in the rainfed areas of Gujarat had been facing tremendous problems while harvesting their crops. Growing a desi variety, 797, they harvest the crop in January and February. The engagement of manual labourers for stripping lint from the partially opened cotton bolls was a time-consuming affair. Sometimes, it had been lingered to rainy season which caused big loss of revenue as cotton get wetted.
“For every problem there is a solution”, American author, William R. Alger’s words, meanwhile, proved revolutionary for a progressive farmer, Mansukhbhai Patel for finding solutions in stripping cotton lint. In 1991, Patel decided to make an affordable machine for removing the shells from cotton bolls.
“As the entire family from kids, school children to women use to remove cotton shells manually for whole day. Their production had just been 5kg to 20 kg of cotton. Though the production was very low and the labour cost was high, I decided to make a cotton stripping machine,” Mansukhbhai says.
To scale up, Mansukhbhai needed investment in his enterprise and fortunately, it came from Kantibhai Patel. A factory manager with Trent Group Cooperative Cotton Shelling Ginning and Pressing Society, Kantibhai, invested a sum of Rs 150,000 for research and development work of mechanising cotton stripping.
Mansukhbhai took a shed on rent in a cotton-processing mill and acquired some basic machinery. After three years, he demonstrated the cotton-stripping machine. The machine got great response from the people, which turned into good number of purchase orders.
The customers were impressed on the time of demonstration. However, it could not perform well under actual working conditions. The customers returned back the machines with several complaints. Thus, he had to refund all the money to the consumers. It led to a big financial debt for him.
Not losing the heart, he sharpened his efforts. After two years of sweating out, Mansukhbhai developed a final model in 1996 with several technical changes. Over a period of time, he has made more changes in the machine. When the machine got popularity, after 2000, he has made and sold 15-20 machines every year, priced at Rs 5 lakh each.
The machine is made of mild steel and cast iron that run on a 15 HP motor. It processes around 400 kg cotton every hour. The cotton-stripper saves the cost of manual labour and eliminates drudgery for women and children. It is being sold in Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Surendra Nagar, Morbi and other surrounding areas of Gujarat.
For his innovation, Mansukhbhai was conferred with a national award by National Innovation Foundation (NIF) in 2002. He has also received Best Technology Award for the year 2003 by National Research Development Corporation.