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Rural Jugaad: Reducing sugarcane planting cost

The ex-factory price of the sugarcane bud-chipper is Rs 1,200. An experienced labourer can chip 400 buds per hour. It reduces up to 90% plantation cost of sugarcane

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The ex-factory price of the sugarcane bud-chipper is Rs 1,200. An experienced labourer can chip 400 buds per hour. It reduces up to 90% plantation cost of sugarcane. Mohd Mustaquim reports...

Roshanlal Vishwakarma, a farmer in Narsimhapur, Madhya Pradesh cultivates sugarcane in eight acres of his land. It is not feasible for him to spend Rs 80,000 for sugarcane sowing. In conventional method of sugarcane planting, a farmer has to plant the entire cane, spending around Rs 10,000 for each acre of land. It turns to be a costly affair for the small farmers.

Hence, it leads Vishwakarma to think something outstanding and innovative which can reduce the cost to the level of his affordability. Way back in 2006, an innovative idea clicked in his mind which resulted into an equipment - sugarcane bud chipper. By pressing the handle, the equipment removes the bud from the node of the sugarcane, which is then used for planting.

While suggesting some ergonomic feasibility, the Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering (CIAE) Bhopal recognised the technique as a novel thought. Slightly different kinds of chippers are reportedly developed in Tamil Nadu but this one seems low cost and efficient. After technological testing, the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, approved the innovation in 2009.

Now, a farmer-cum-grassroot-innovator, Vishwakarma turns an entrepreneur. His journey became easier when NIF awarded him in its 5th biennial award function. Mentoring his innovation, NIF also financed him under the Micro Venture Innovation Fund (MVIF) scheme in three phases. First he received Rs 20,000, then Rs 200,000 and then Rs 900,000. To get better market access, he sold marketing rights to Tata Agrico in Maharashtra.

The ex-factory price of the bud-chipper is Rs 1,200. An experienced labourer can chip 400 buds per hour. It reduces 90% of the cost of plantation.

“Now, for an acre of land, a farmer only needs 200 kg of sugarcane buds which cost only Rs 500. Today, farmers are able to chip the buds from the sugarcane in the field and rest of the sugarcane go to the mill for sugar or jaggery processing,” said Vishwakarma.

“Since 2009, I have made and sold around 8,000 bud-chippers. In 2010, I was awarded Jagjivan Ram Abhinav Kisan Samman by ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research). Then, again in 2012, I was awarded Rs 10 lakh by NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development),” he added.
 
The success of sugarcane bud-chipper pumped his creativity. Planting of buds was time-consuming. In an acre of land, there were six labourers required for 3-4 days. Then, he innovated another machine, sugarcane bud-planter, which plants buds in an acre within 3-4 hours. The ex-factory price of the planter is Rs 120,000.  

“NIF helped me in filing patent for the planter which is yet to come. I have given its manufacturing rights to Aurangabad-based Inderjit Balvirsingh Khas who pays me Rs 10,000 royalty for every machine he sells,” Vishwakarma says.

Rural India is full of creative minds. The industry just needs to cooperate with them for the betterment of the society.

Photo: Roshanlal Vishwakarma, the innovator demonstrates his innovation to then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee during Exhibition of Innovations at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi

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