Hyderabad resident Kadavendi Mahipal Chary has built an affordable farming machine that cuts labour costs and cultivates fields, for which he has won a national-level award.
The ancestral land on which Kadavendi Mahipal Chary grew up reaped good harvest, but not enough income, he recalls. His father would have to spend a large chunk of their earnings on labourers to cultivate the two-acre field, leaving them with very little to go on.
Unable to complete his Class 10 due to the financial constraints, Mahipal took up the job of a bike mechanic in a town near his village in Hyderabad. He started out as an assistant, but soon became good at repairing vehicles.
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“In the early 2000, my father transferred the land to me. I returned to my village and took up farming, but began facing the same issue of labour costs. After spending thousands as wages and rent for animals, there was nothing left as profit. As a side business, I began repairing tractors and used some to work on my farm,” Mahipal tells The Better India.
The 42-year-old began thinking of how he could solve his woes, and arrived at the conclusion of building a cultivator of his own to save some money.
“In 2011, I began trials by using an old auto rickshaw engine. But the attempt failed. Later, I went to Hyderabad city and purchased an engine made in China. When it worked well, I incorporated other parts using scrap materials and built a cultivator machine by the end of the year,” he explains.
This machine, he says, can run for three hours on 1 litre of diesel. In this duration, it can cover an area of 3 acres. Only one person is required to operate the device, he adds. “Running the machine is simpler than riding a scooter. There is an accelerator in the left hand grip and the machine can be run by placing both hands, like in a two-wheeler,” he shares.
Becoming an agripreneur
“While other farmers spent upto Rs 1 lakh as rent and labour charges for the process, I spent less than half of it to build this machine, which can be used repeatedly without further maintenance. Due to this reason, I started getting requests to build more of it, available for purchase,” he says.
In 2012, Mahipal launched Varun Engineering Works, from where farmers could buy cultivators and other farming-related machines “at an affordable price”. Mahipal also customises machines based on preferences.
“My innovation came under the limelight after being featured on a Telugu news channel. By then, I had sold over 13 machines. I now have 12 employees and my other innovations include a power weeder and a mini-tractor. The latter can be connected to a trolley and can carry upto 1 tonne of weight. I also built a hydraulic lift that can lift upto 500 kg which can be utilised in other industries as well,” notes the agripreneur.
“The plight of farmers in India is one reason why I opted for this field. Like me, many of them are left battling poverty due to high labour costs and unavailability of affordable machinery. I am on a mission to change this narrative,” he adds.
Varun Engineering Works is located in Mahipal’s native area Parkal.
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‘Affordable and user-friendly’
The innovator shares that he now builds the machines by assembling engines from Kolhapur, and material as well as gears from Hyderabad. “Till date, more than 4,000 cultivators have been sold for a price between Rs 45,000 to Rs 55,000,” he says.
Viswesara, a farmer who bought the cultivator machine two years ago, says, “I am able to save at least Rs 50,000 every season with the help of this machine. Buying this was a one-time investment and I have not done any maintenance till now. I handle the cultivator easily without anyone’s help, saving labour charges. I hope Mahipal comes up with more innovations to make our lives better.”
Currently, Mahipal is working on a mini tractor that runs on battery. “Given the high price of petroleum products, it is better to shift to other alternatives,” he says.
For his innovations, Mahipal was given the National Grassroots Innovation Award by the President of India in 2015 and the National Entrepreneurship Award in 2018. “Both of these were big honours but what means the world to me is the farmer who struggles to make ends meet even after receiving a good harvest. I am glad that my machines are making their lives easier,” he notes.
Contact Varun Engineering Works on 9866922168.
Edited by Divya Sethu