Idukki native Manu Joseph never expected his flight from Bahrain to Kerala to be the last one he would take for a while. He says he still can’t believe the way the pandemic has changed his life and pushed him towards a new beginning. Today, he makes a living by selling petrol engines, which help farmers carry heavy loads while working on fields.
“I worked as a technician in Bahrain’s Telecommunication Department for around 15 years. Every year, I’d come home during my annual leave. But this time turned out to be a permanent goodbye to Bahrain,” Manu tells The Better India.
Manu, who also has a diploma in automobile engineering, says that he decided to put his engineering skills to use during the lockdown. These, in turn, helped out farmers as well.
“During the lockdown, I started noticing farmers who were struggling in the cardamom fields. Many of my family members and villagers cultivate cardamom, as our district’s climate is suitable for it. From tilling the soil to carrying the crop from the fields to the roadside, the entire process is difficult for a farmer to carry out alone. For this, I decided to make a machine that can reduce the efforts they have to take,” he says.
Manu started by sketching a rough design of the machine, and listed what material would be needed to make it. This included steel, an engine, and other smaller tools.
“Even though I had a basic idea of how I would make the machine, I didn’t have money to buy the material. My family helped me out with the finances, and I opened a workshop in May,” he says. He named the workshop Edwin Agrocart.
The making of
“Since I was child, I have been the sort of person who never loses faith. While working on the machine, there were many times I had to start from scratch, due to engine-related issues. I kept pushing myself, and it took over seven months for the work to be completed. All my family members, including my three kids, helped me make the petrol engine. I still remember my kids coming up to me with tiny screws and tools, eager to know if they could help me,” he recalls.
The first Edwin Agrocart petrol engine was given to farmers for a test run. Manu says they loved the idea, and told him it helped reduce the time it took to carry the load, like manure. He also gave the machine to his family so they could review it.
“Testing the machine was easy, as most of my friends and relatives are cardamom cultivators. I modified the machine based on their suggestions — they asked for a better tyre, as most of the land was not smooth. For this, I imported tyres from Gujarat. The rest of the material was taken from local markets across various districts in Kerala,” he says.
Manu says the machine helps farmers till the soil, carry the load, and apply fertilizers and pesticides on the crops. If one litre of petrol is filled in the tank, it works for more than two hours.
He adds, “The machine can also be used for construction, as it can carry heavy loads and be taken on any kind of road.”
All the material used to make the machine has the ISI mark. “Even the nuts and bolts I used are of good quality. I was very particular about this, because I wanted my customers to have machines of the best quality. I provide a one-year warranty for my product. Even after a year, the machine can run smoothly. I only expect engine-related issues to come up, but that is easily fixable if one just replaces the engine,” Manu says. One machine costs Rs 75,000.
Many farmers across Kerala have visited Manu’s workshop to buy the machine. “Till date, I have received over 20 orders, and eight farmers from my village itself have also purchased it. I also let them take it for test runs,” he says.
When asked if Manu wishes to fly back to Bahrain again, he says, “My company will be happy to see me there, but I wish to spend the future with my family. So no, I won’t be travelling there again. I hope my machine will be able to support my family financially.”
Manu says he is ready to take orders across India. To place an order, or for more information, one can contact him on 75580 05267.
(Edited by Divya Sethu)