In the Brindavan Colony of Uppal, Hyderabad lies a workshop in which 33-year-old Bommagani Mallesh, a rural entrepreneur, is looking to develop innovative tools and products for farmers.
He dreams of expanding his current workstation with three employees to a full-fledged manufacturing unit that will employ scores of young job seekers. This Class 9 dropout from a low-income family already has a few innovations to his name, besides a receiving an honorary doctorate from the United Theological University in Secunderabad for the same.
One such innovation is the solar-powered pesticide sprayer, which costs Rs 5,000. Aside from being a handy tool for farmers on the field, it can function as an inverter that can power basic electronic appliances like lights and fans. Mallesh has already received 3,000 orders for this product.
“Each farmer spends about Rs 1,000 on diesel and petrol a day to spray pesticide for five acres. Annually, they need to spend Rs 18,000–Rs 20,000 towards petrol and diesel, whereas with my device they just need to invest Rs 5,000 once and reap the benefits forever,” he said to The News Minute.
Another significant innovation is a mobile-phone controlled device which allows farmers to pump their water without walking all the way to their wells and suffer snake bites for their troubles. With a SIM card installed, the farmer calls the number and is given a choice to dial 0 or 1.
Speaking to The News Minute, Mallesh articulated “if you press one, the water pump switches on, and if you press zero, it stops.”
He has also designed a cost-effective weed remover machine.
Mallesh isn’t the first or the last rural entrepreneur from difficult circumstances who have come up with unique solutions to address farm concerns. There is Santosh Kaveri from Shebdal village in Belgaum district, Karnataka, whose humble beginnings did not deter him from dreaming big.
Santosh enrolled himself in the LEAD programme during his first year in college (where he is pursuing his BBA) and has developed an effortless and painless (for the animal) braking system for bullock carts that many rural farmers continue to employ. He also developed a carrot cleaning machine which does not require water or electricity, leaving the produce ready for sale. Mind you, he is not an engineer.
“I want to expand my business and design more tools and products that will help farmers. I am a farmer too. The plight of farmers is sad; they take huge loans uncertain of their productivity. So, my innovations are aimed at cutting their costs and increasing the productivity,” says Mallesh.
This is the hope for many rural entrepreneurs. Circumstances have not held them down. We should do more to support such endeavours.