Indrajit Singh Khas observed the problems faced by farmers while planting turmeric and ginger. They had to manually dig the soil which was both time consuming and costly. He invented a simple technology to solve this issue. His innovation not only simplifies the tedious process of ginger plantation but also increases the harvest. Know more about the machine and how Indrajit, who had no technical background, made it possible.
Indrajit Balvir Singh Khas’s life was spent in a well-settled family. He would have followed his family’s footsteps by doing farming, but instead, he chose a different path and became an innovator.
This regular guy from Aurangabad, who had no idea about technology and innovations, made life simpler for thousands of farmers with his simple idea of a ginger/turmeric planter.
“I didn’t plan to be an innovator. I just observed the problems faced by the farmers while planting ginger and turmeric. I wanted to make the plating process quicker and simpler and the invention was something that just happened over a period of time,” Khas says.
He observed that labour was a huge problem when it came to planting crops like ginger and turmeric. The manual planting took excess time and energy and eventually led to an increase in the planting cost. The labourers had to dig the soil to sow ginger/turmeric which was tiresome and also led to back problems and bad body posture due to continuous bending.
“Technology can solve the biggest problems and using it for farming was an obvious choice. So I started researching more on it,” Khas says.
Finally, after two and half years of research, Khas was ready with the planter model. But a new challenge came in his way. No one was ready to take the risk and experiment on their farm.
“If the planter didn’t work, it would damage their land and the farmers wouldn’t be able to plant further in that season. No one was ready to take that risk,” Khas says.
Finally Khas’ friend came forward for the support and used the planter on his nine acres land. Fortunately the technology worked and gave a great positive result. His friend then recommended Khas’ invention to other people and soon Khas had 5-6 orders for the planter.
How does it work?
The technology which Khas has proudly named “Guru” is a planter with adjustable row spacing that can be attached to a tractor. The planter opens the furrow, meters the seeds, then delivers and places them in the furrow at an equal distance.
Equipped with a feeder, metering mechanism, chain drive, bevel gears, rotating discs, adjustable furrow openers, etc. this planter has adjustable row spacing from 4.5 feet to 5.5 feet.
A wheel at the base can adjust the plant-to-plant distance, which can vary between 6 inch, 9 inch and 12 inch. The machine is available at a cost of Rs.75,000 excluding transportation charges.
While one acre of land requires manual work of 27-30 labours, only five such machines are enough to do a better job at planting. Also, only one acre land can be planted in a day if done manually, this machine helps to plant around four acres of land in a day.
The systematic planting through this machine also resulted in an increased harvest. While manual planting gave 180 quintals to 190 quintals per acre, the plantation done through “Guru” resulted in 220 quintals to 225 quintals of harvest on the same land.
“The biggest challenge came when I first started researching on this technology. I am no engineer and I didn’t know how it all works,” says Khas.
But determined to give shape to his idea, he kept experimenting with the model and made seven prototypes before coming up with a final design. “I wasted around Rs.2 lakhs just on experimenting with the prototypes,” Khas says.
Another challenge was to build trust among the people. They were not ready to risk one harvest season to try a new technology which might or might not work.
“It is very hard to sell an innovation. Even if people like the technology they would first research whether there is a bigger and better known brand that offers the same technology and they will any day opt for that. In case they can’t find an already established brand, they come to small innovators like us,” Khas says.
Khas believed in his technology and knew it could help the farmers a great deal. The only problem was to scale up and reach out to more people.
To help him with this, a friend told Khas about National Innovation Foundation. He was soon shortlisted for a competition in Delhi where he was expected to present his model.
“It was such a short notice and a big surprise. I didn’t even have a machine to show at that time. I had sold them all. So I urgently prepared a machine in just 3-4 days and took it to Delhi,” Khas recalls.
NIF-India gave him a loan of Rs.2 lakhs to scale up and also gave a grant of Rs.70,000 to experiment with the model.
This was just the start to a path breaking invention that could simplify the tedious manual task. So far, Khas has managed to sell 18 such planters across India and 10 more machines are available for instant sale.
The team of eight which includes Khas’ father, brother and six workers take around 5 days to make a machine. This year, Khas plans to sell around 30 more such machines across India.
His two cents
“The response that we receive from people is the biggest treasure and I am glad that I have been able to meet their expectations,” Khas says.
He believes in thinking out-of-the-box and making things happen. His philosophy is to help people through innovative ideas.