71-year-old farmer weeding innovation cuts costs for thousands of farmers

THEThe labor shortage is a relevant issue for agriculture. High wage costs and irregular farming activities hamper crop productivity and sometimes even force farmers to change their farming patterns.

Ashok Jadhav from Chinchner Village in Satara, Maharashtra, faced similar problems. Having started farming on his ancestral 2 acre land after retiring from a private company as a machinist, he says, “I have been farming since 1999. I cultivate sugar cane, soybeans, turmeric. , tomato and other seasonal vegetables. However, I switched to organic farming which gave rise to the weed issue.

The 71-year-old says that organic farming involves the use of abundant natural fertilizers, which leads to unwanted weed growth. These weeds consume nutrients from the soil and affect plant growth.

To solve this problem, Ashok started using weedkillers on the farm. “Although this is an effective solution, the chemicals have defeated the goal of organically growing food. In addition, it began to deteriorate the quality of the soil. We needed a healthier solution for the soil, ”he says, adding that he has started hiring labor for this task.

“However, the labor costs were high and I couldn’t afford to spend 20,000 rupees on laborers that I sometimes needed,” he explains.

A solution for only Rs 400

Weeding device manufactured by Ashok.

Ashok says that was when he started brainstorming innovative ideas to solve the problem. “I contacted agricultural experts from the ministry and created a bicycle weed killer that would cut weeds along the crops. The wheels had blades attached to them, which removed weeds. But that didn’t remove the weeds that grew between the crops, ”he adds.

In search of a better alternative, he visited agricultural exhibitions to identify tools or equipment to find an affordable solution. But in vain.

“In 2018, I decided to experiment with a makeshift solution. I took two iron rods, bent them at each of their ends, and tied a thin 8-10 inch wire between them, joining the two rods together with a metal pipe as a handle, ”Ashok explains. . The device requires hand pulling weeds and the wire cuts them by the root.

The tool worked and made it accessible to remove weeds in crowded crops and minor gaps. However, the metal wire broke due to the tension of the weeds or because of its thick stems. “Sometimes the wire would lose tension between the metal rods and hurt his hand and shoulders,” he says.

Over the next two years, Ashok made several modifications to the device. “I improved the angle for bending the iron rods and installed a piece of metal to support the cutting wires. I have learned that a 7 inch wire serves the best in terms of efficiency and performance. The thin metal wires have been replaced with used cable wires from two-wheeler brakes, ”he says, adding that his previous experience working as a machinist has been helpful during the process.

To make the tool lighter, he replaced the metal handle with bamboo. “This has helped to fill the gaps to a large extent. Previously, it took 10 workers to work all day on an acre of land, which cost Rs 3,000 per day. But now the same job can be done by one person in two days for around Rs 300, ”he says.

Ashok says the device has no moving parts and requires little maintenance.

Watch: Ashok, 71-year-old farmer, demonstrates his weed control innovation

When he shared the device’s photos and video on social media, he received tons of requests from farmers. “I made around 400 devices and gave them to farmers in neighboring areas. As more and more orders came in, I collaborated with a local workshop and started selling them for Rs 400 apiece, making minimal profit, ”he says.

Satish Munje, a Satara-based farmer, says he bought the device and saved a significant amount of money on labor costs. “I was spending Rs 40,000 alone on laborers to remove weeds on my 2.5 acre farm. However, my costs have dropped significantly with this device. I now spend 5,000 rupees on a worker doing the job, ”he says.

Ashok claims to have sold around 5,000 devices so far. “I receive requests from all over the state including Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Pandharpur, Yavatmal and others. Recently, I received an order from Punjab, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, ”he adds.

Ashok aims to organize workshops for farmers on the construction of the device and to offer other innovative solutions in agriculture.

“I am happy that my makeshift arrangement is helping thousands of farmers save money, time and effort to solve such a common problem in the farming community,” he says.

If you would like to order the device, call 9527949010.

Edited by Yoshita Rao

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