KARNATAKA

Youth develops prototype of areca palm scaling device

It can be used for spraying pesticides on arecanut bunches

A youth from this village has developed a prototype of a mechanical device that can scale areca palms and spray pesticides on arecanut bunches.

The device may emerge as an alternative to skilled workers who can climb areca palms, provided this young researcher gets financial support to improvise it for mass-scale manufacturing.

Areca growers have been complaining about shortage of skilled workers for spraying copper sulphate and lime mixture on arecanut bunches to control ‘kole roga' (fruit rot disease).

The device developed by Milind Bhide, an Electronics and Communication diploma-holder, has raised the hopes of such farmers.

Mr. Bhide was a student of Prasanna Polytechnic, Ujire, till May. He told The Hindu that he started his research in November 2009 and was ready with the initial set by March 2010, which he improvised later.

After a demonstration at his Kochi Thota areca plantation near Mundaje he said that the device weighing 23 kg could scale a height of 50 ft using compressed air.

It is fitted with an arm having a closed-circuit television camera, a spray pipe and a spray flow controller. The device and its arm can be controlled from a hand-held switchboard with a display screen. The arm can rotate in all directions.

Once the device climbs the palm and positions itself, the arm can be “directed” to spray pesticides on areanut bunches. When the device is on the top of a palm, the image of arecanut bunches will be displayed on the screen. Thus, the quantity of the insecticide to be sprayed can be monitored from ground.

Mr. Bhide said that using two batteries each of 12 V/12 Ah capacity and 1/2-HP capacity compressed air cylinder the device could be operated for five hours.

Expenditure



He had spent Rs. 1.5 lakh for developing the device. He visited Mumbai and Bangalore to source some spare parts.

Mr. Bhide said that the device could be put into a trolley and transported. He said he converted the manual gutter pump used for spraying into an automatic one. As a result, the pump can be operated without any manpower.

Mr. Bhide said that in March he applied for the Arecanut Research and Development Foundation (ARDF), Mangalore, seeking financial assistance to further improvise the device. He is yet to get a response from the foundation.

Manchi Srinivasa Achar, president of the All-India Areca Growers' Association, Puttur, told The Hindu that Mr. Bhide had made a beginning with a good concept. However, there were some mechanical limitations. There was scope for further improvising the device, he said.

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