Ashok Gorre (17) was born into a family of farmers in Suryapet District, Telangana. While most children his age are focussed on what college they must apply to or what online course they should study next, Ashok is inventing low-cost tools that can make farming easier for the farmers in his village.
“Apart from learning from books in school, it has always been my passion to innovate new things using scrap material lying around my home. In my 6th standard, for a science fair, I made a Hydraulic JCB model using some pipes, syringes, and springs. I even won a prize for it. Both my parents are paddy cultivators so I can understand the struggles they face from sowing seeds to gathering the dry paddy in the post-harvest period,” says Ashok.
Today, he has finished his 12th standard at the Devarakonda Vocational College and has made a four-in-one multipurpose tool that is helping 17 farmers in that area.
About the innovation
Ashok realised that there were many farmers, including his father, who was unable to get any help for working in the fields. Either they could not find labour, or could not afford it. During the paddy harvest, they did not have any help and had to work by themselves. To make their tedious job easier, last year, Ashok came up with one solution to reap, collect, and handle the paddy.
“The process of making this tool began by drawing the design on paper, collecting raw materials, and putting it together with the help of a welder. I do not have a workshop at home, so I depended on shops in my locality. It cost me only Rs.1700 because I used old materials,” says Ashok.
Made using iron rods, an old cycle wheel, and bolts, the four-in-one tool can be used to reap the paddy, collect the grains, separate the paddy for drying before it is bundled, and it can be used for weeding chilli and cotton crops.
Ashok says, once the desired fitting is placed, the farmer has to move the device around like a trolley on their field.
After the final version was ready, Ashok asked his father Nagaraju (45) to trial it on the field.
He says, “I could move around my 5-acre land with ease and do my work faster. Earlier, my wife and I would reap the crops using a sickle, and it would take us more than one day, but using this tool, I could finish it alone within half a day. It was a very innovative design, and I cannot be more proud of my son.”
The word about Ashok’s innovation spread to other farmers living nearby, and they wanted to trial the device on their farms too. After they were convinced about its utility, they requested the young boy to make one for them too.
Pulamma, a 48-year-old farmer who resides near Ashok’s home, also says that the device has reduced the time she works on the field.
She says, “After the grains are taken from the paddy, the leftover is dried under the sun and bundled up to serve as fodder for the cattle. Spreading this out on the floor and then collecting it is a time-consuming process. Three months ago, I purchased the tool from Ashok because I had to work without any help from others, and it was beneficial.”
The device is priced at Rs.3500, and Ashok has started making it using fresh materials instead of used items.
Last year, he also won the first prize at the Students Engineering Model Competition organised at India International Science Festival 2019 organised by the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences in association with Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA) in Kolkata.
During the lockdown, Ashok worked on a portable weeding tool that can remove weeds among the rice crops. The simple device was made using a cycle’s hand brake, a spring, and iron rods and plates.
The young innovator says that he can develop such tools in a short period of time because he doesn’t just identify the problem; he ‘feels it’, and looks for solutions.
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)