Till a few years back a farmer's entire family used to work in the fields and he could manage the harvest. But today, unable to make a living from the rain dependent farms, many small-holders are in difficulty and moving into the already cramped towns and cities in search of work. At times, fields are left practically unattended,” says Mr. Ajay Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, New Delhi.
“It is akin to being caught between the devil and the deep sea for them. They cannot sell their lands as they are their only source of security, and cannot make a net profit from their crops either,” he adds.
What can a farmer do in such a piquant situation?
Mr. Shamrao Parhate from Madhya Pradesh says, “labour shortage problem literally forced me to develop a multipurpose agriculture machine that can do several operations.”
Named 'Shivraj,' the lightweight device performs nearly six types of agricultural work, and is becoming popular among farmers of Chhindwara, Nagpur and Wardha districts in Maharashtra.
It is a multipurpose tool frame drawn by a pair of bullocks. Different accessories can be attached to it for performing several operations, such as shallow ploughing, interculturing, weeding, sowing, residue collection, groundnut digging, and soybean harvesting.
With a little modification, it turns into a sprayer as well.
“About 0.27 hectare can be readied in an hour using this machine which is priced at Rs. 12,000, inclusive of attachments,” says the farmer, adding “there are many innovative features in Shivraj.”
A provision for different seed rates and desired plant-to-plant spacing, disconnecting the seed metering drive using a locking lever to avoid seed losses, changing the angle of penetration into the soil during ploughing are some of them.
Specially built ploughs are provided for ploughing the fields.
“Three plough bottoms can be attached at a time, and the full weight of the machine is put into the ploughing process and the angular back support ensures that the plough does not bend when in use,” he explains.
Harrowing is done by steel tyres that break the upper soil crust and uproot weeds. The residue gets collected by a special attachment operated by a hand lever at the rear of this equipment.
“When the vehicle moves forward, it collects uprooted stalks, weeds and crop residue. When the lever is lifted, the collected material drops in a heap to be carried away or burnt,” explains Mr. Parhate.
The seed drilling attachment consists of seed box, drilling unit, seed conveying PVC tubes and furrow openers.
The drilling unit derives its power from central shaft of driven wheels through a belt-and-pulley mechanism.
Plant-to-plant and row-to-row distance can also be adjusted.
Weeding and intercultural operations are done by fixing suitable blades according to the need of crop being handled.
“For groundnut digging, the blade enters four to five inches deep in the soil, cuts the roots allowing the pods to be retained along with the plant. For soybean harvesting, an attachment drops the cut crop to one side for manual collection,” explains Mr. Parhate who is in the process of patenting the machine.
“Parhate's innovation comes at an ideal time when the country is hard hit in terms of sourcing manual labourers.
“The machine seems to be a good alternative to human labour,” adds Mr. Ajay.
For more details readers can contact Mr. Shamrao Parhate, Pandhurna, Chinndwara, Madhya Pradesh, phone: 07164-220308, Fax: 07164-220637, mobile: 09424648655.