The farmer whose passion for science led him to invent amazing & affordable solar devices

Meet a young rural innovator who is solving some of Indian farmers’ biggest agriculture woes with his low cost and effective innovations. High Clearance Solar sprayer, Solar Operated Flour Mill cum Mixer and more amazing products have come from this grassroot innovator. 

Being on earth, he has carried his dreams to where ‘sky is the limit’. At the age of 8, when other kids used to play, Sangappa was helping his farmer father on the field to feed his family.

No matter what problems came his way, the young boy sacrificed sleep on hundreds of nights and challenged all the troubles. With 3,600 farmers showing an interest in buying his solar sprayer, today he has become one of the best young agricultural scientists and innovators in India.

Excerpts from an interview with Sangappa Sankanagouda:

What is the use of this machine and how is it different from other similar machines which are being used by farmers?

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High clearance solar sprayer machine is used to spread the pesticide on crops. Other sprayers are present in the market but their efficiency is very low. Usually, machines available in the market are short in height, harming the crop, but my machine can be adjusted up to two feet which will not damage the crop.

How did you manage to develop the solar sprayer? What are its components and how can it be operated?

I like making agricultural machines that aid in the cultivation of crops, so I am interested in innovation as well as in cultivation.

From childhood, I have been an innovator and have a deep interest in science. I have also worked in various science projects during my school days. When I used other sprayers in the field, I felt the machines were very difficult to use and took a lot of time to operate; so the idea struck me to make a cheaper and better alternative which can help Indian farmers.

I then joined the Agriculture college at Raichur, where I managed to purchase some tools and successfully made this machine during the second year of my engineering degree.

The sprayer is easy to use and light weight; all its parts can be dismantled and easily transported. The wheels have long life tubeless tyres which protect them from puncture. A solar panel, DC battery, DC motor and frames are some of its other features. One person can easily operate the machine and also dismantle it.

The solar sprayer can be continuously used for seven hours if fully charged. It can be used during the day even if the solar panel is not charged. As an extra feature, a mobile phone charging point has been provided to keep a cell phone.

The total height of the machine is 10 feet, which can be adjusted by up to 5 feet. The weight of the machine is 30 kgs, it increases to 55 kgs when loaded with water. In the coming future, I am also planning to reduce the weight by 10 kgs.

Who all have appreciated your work and what is the demand and value of your machine among the farmers?

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When I went to Krishi mela in Raichur, all the farmers showed an interest in buying my machine. The media on the spot took my interview and the next day it was out in one of the newspapers.

When farmers got to know about the news, I got more orders from other farmers as well. Till now, I have received orders for 3,600 machines. My family, teacher, brother, all supported me a lot.

In around one year’s time, solar sprayer machine can be provided to all the 3,600 farmers who have already ordered for the machine. After three months, the manufacturing will start. Rs 12,000 is the actual price of solar sprayer. If the government provides subsidy, the cost of the same machines will become Rs. 7,000 so that poor farmers can also afford it.

What is your aim and what are your future plans?

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My ambition is to start an industry so that I can make different types of machines and provide them to the farmers as soon as possible. Initially, my plan is to invest Rs. 10 lakhs to Rs. 15 lakhs for a small industry where other types of useful machines will be manufactured.

I have also invented another machine, which can directly convert the dry agricultural products to powdered form. Red chilies can be converted to chili powder. The cost of this machine is Rs. 15,000; it can give 16 kg of flour per day (2kg per hour).

I am also planning to take a loan as the government is supporting me to manufacture more machines.

Awards won by Sangappa in 2014

The young innovator has been facilitated by the Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) in the event Manthan at Bangalore. Sangappa won thebfirst prize of Rs 1.5 Lakh.

In Green summit 2014, an awards function was organised to recognize the Indian leaders in Renewable Energy sector and acknowledge their contributions that take the industry towards a new and innovative path. Here, Sangappa won the first prize for his High Clearance Solar Sprayer.

What are the challenges you faced for this achievement?

At the time of inventing the machine, many people uttered that this will not work. Many of them did not support me but I believe creativity and innovative ideas is God’s gift and it comes by birth.

When I was eight years old, I started working in the field. After completing field work, I used to go to school. My father used to tell me that we are poor people so first you go to field and then you go to school. Due to family pressure and a bad financial condition, we had to do this.

Many people have money problems in this world, but that should not stop them from becoming successful. Even I faced a lot of financial problems and was not able to give my college fee, but I managed to take money from some people and returned it to them too.

When I was in my second year of engineering, my father died. It was another u-turn in my life. After his death, I started working in a hospital at night and, during the day time, attended school.

What message do you have for youngsters and people of India?What is the secret of your success?

I want to say to all the students of my country that they should only concentrate on their interests and start working on their goal, but not the forced goal of their relatives and the people who de-motivate them. They can do best where they have an intense interest. The secret of my success lies in the continuous working towards the goal, and I have never given up.

What, according to you, is the biggest achievement of your life, apart from your innovation?

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My English was not good from childhood days and it was very challenging for me to get good marks in the English subject during school days, but now my English has started improving after joining Agriculture College. A boy who struggled to speak English got admission in Science College just because of his interest, which I think was one of my biggest achievements.

Some of my relatives suggested that my percentage was very low and I should not consider the science discipline, but I did not listen to them and concentrated on my goal.

Indian farmers are poor so I want to invent light and inexpensive machines so that it will be effective and easy to use.

The young innovator happily says that, “Winning first prize at the FKCCI event was one of the most precious moments and the happiest days of my life.”

Sangappa Sankanagouda belongs to Chikumbi village in Bhagalkot district of Karnataka.

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About the author and photographer: Vikram Kapoor is a young and enthusiastic freelance journalist. He is presently working on various freelance writing projects with well known organisations and media agencies in India. Contact him on [email protected]

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