SCI-TECH & AGRI

An innovation that generates revenue for rural women

Problem solved: K. Vivekanandan, Coimbatore, seen along with his grinding machine.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: Special Arrangement

M.J. PRABU

About 75 machines have been sold. Each unit is priced Rs. 11,500

Due to a better understanding of their environment rural women create a number of innovations which have immense potential.

“But access to skills, networks, and other resources needed to take their innovations to the market are lacking.

Bridge the gap

“To bridge this gap, Rural Innovations Network (called Villgro Innovations Foundation), Chennai, offers a platform for many rural innovators to showcase their discoveries,” says Ms. Sucharita Kamath, Head, Innovation ecosystem, Chennai.

“Our work involves identifying and incubating innovations lying untapped in spite of their potential to transform rural lives. We strive to make a difference to an idea that fails to see the light of day and make it accepted,” she explains.

Case example

For example, take the case of Mr. K. Vivekanandan of Coimbatore, who investedRs.8 lakh and created a 3 HP pin pulverizer for grinding chilli and coriander.

But what is new about a grinding machine for chilli and coriander when there are a number of such machines in towns?

Chilli and coriander spices are important spicing agents in south Indian cuisine, and rural women often travel long stretches in search of a suitable grinder for them.

Existing machines to grind chilli and coriander require high installation costs, and use a lot of power making it unsuitable for rural areas, where power supply may also be undependable.

Few buyers

Mr. Vivekanandan thought he solved 90 per cent of the grinding problem when he developed the machine, and manufactured nearly 100 of them. But to his dismay he found that only 20 pieces found buyers. Some of the buyers returned the machine, because the chilli and coriander did not pass through the filter screen, and created too much dust while grinding.

Work came to a standstill, and did not resume for almost a year.

Mr. Vivekanandan came to know about Villgro accidentally, from one of its staff members, while travelling in a train and so he approached them for guidance. The staff at Villgro tapped different resources to work on this problem. Technical expertise first assisted Mr. Vivekanandan in producing a 1 HP, single phase machine, because the machine could not initially run at a speed on 3 HP. (In rural areas the preference is for a one- HP, single-phase machine due to voltage fluctuation). After several trials they identified the problem.

“The problem of chilli and coriander getting stuck on the screen was not because of their high fibre content, but due to the speed of the rotor. Accordingly, the weight of the machine was reduced, its wall thickness, size, and diameter of the stator and rotor altered to suit rural application,” says Ms. Sucharita.

Scaling down cost

Mr. Vivekanandan brought down the cost of the machine to cater to rural needs by focusing on the types and amount of materials used.

“So far, about 75 units have been sold. Each unit is priced at Rs. 11,500 (with motor).

The quality of the essential components such as the bearings and blades are being maintained to avoid future problems which are most unlikely to occur.

The machine is an ideal revenue generator for rural women who are interested in increasing their domestic income,” says Mr. Vivekanandan. For more information readers can contact:

Mr. K. Vivekanandan, M/s Vivega Engineering Works, New No: 116-118,Sathy Road, R. K. Puram, Ganapathy, Coimbatore - 641 006, Mobile No: 94437-21341.