Presently farmers in Tamil Nadu are battling two problems — acute water shortage and a major power crisis. “Even to pump out the fast dwindling water from the wells for irrigating the crops farmers need electricity. Sometimes they get it after 14 hours or some days they get the supply in 6-7 hours.
“There is no fixed time. A few months ago, when I was visiting a field in Kadayam region in Tirunelveli I saw a farmer spraying his 25 cents of rose crop carrying a hand operated sprayer. He was walking several times towards his field bund to fill his manual sprayer.
“Only a few more weeks were left for him to do the daily pickings after which he cannot continue, since summer is fast approaching and already the water level in the wells is rapidly dwindling,” says Dr. P.David Raja Beula, Assistant Director of Horticulture Kadayam.
Mr. David has developed a device called ‘Drought fighter’ that promises to be of help during dry season or when water availability is low.
The main feature of this device is that it does not require electricity to operate it, but works on solar energy. It is priced at Rs.15,000.
“The machine is mainly developed to help a farmer conserve water and use the available water efficiently for irrigating his crops, without using electricity. Already several wells in the region are fast becoming dry with no water. Throughout the State it is the same. Having already developed a solar spray I decided to apply the same idea and developed this new water conserving machine that runs on solar power,” he says.
The drought fighter has a two-metre-long sucking tube and a 20 metre long delivery hose with a lance and a nozzle attached.
An 18 watt small solar panel is attached to a 12 volt electric motor. All farmers need to do is place the solar panel along with the motor under the sun for an hour and start using it.
Once charged it can continuously run for three hours, after which the motor needs to be switched off and the panel needs to be charged again.
Whenever there is electricity, water from the well can be pumped into four or five 200 litres plastic barrels. Later the drought fighter is kept on top of one of the barrels and the sucking hose immersed in it..
Water can be sprayed in a 360 degrees circle using the 20 metre-long delivery hose, covering 25 cents of area at a time. More area can be covered by periodically shifting of the entire system.
Farmers can also mix their choice of pesticides or bio-pesticides in the barrel and spray.
As water need not be carried on the back it reduces physical labour for the farmer. The device can be used to cultivate almost all crops.
“The major advantage of this over the traditional back pack sprayer is that a farmer need not have to carry the weight of 16 litres of water on his back every time. All he needs to do is place the plastic barrels in different places in the field, fill them with water and use this machine to irrigate, spray his crops,” explains Mr. David.
Mr. Mathew, a farmer from Thiruvananthapuram, who uses this drought fighter to spray his betel vine and pepper crop says, “It is quite a sturdy instrument and requires only one person to operate it. Since it is powered by solar energy I save on the cost of fuel.”
Lot of queries
“Even when the well has minimum quantity of water, vegetables and flowers can be cultivated in a few cents of land using this device. In Kadayam block, Tirunelveli farmers were encouraged to carry on flower cultivation with the help of this drought fighter and now our Horticulture office is flooded with requests from farmers to purchase hybrid Tomato, Bhendi, Brinjal, Bitter gourd and leafy vegetables seeds,” says Mr. David.
“Till date I have manufactured this device only on order. And nationalized banks are giving credit assistance to farmers to buy this machine,” he says.
For further details those inetrested can contact Mr. P.David Raja Beula , Assistant Director of Horticulture Kadayam on email:firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile: 09486285704.