A farmer in Banda, Uttar Pradesh, upcycled an old bicycle to make a low cost plough, and then inspired his neighbours to do the same.
50-year-old Ram Prasad hires farm lands following the Bataidari system, or sharecropping, where a landowner gives his land on rent to farmers who plough the land and share the sales with the owner, in Chahnehra village of Banda, about 130 kilometres south of Kanpur.
When the farmlands were facing serious droughts, he had to sell his bullock to feed his family. Without his bullock and less money to maintain tractors and such equipment, times were difficult. Add to that the unpredictable weather: sometimes grave droughts, and sometimes premature rains. When Prasad realised that all these factors only burdened farmers with rising costs and no returns, he was adamant that he had to improvise an economical way to sustain farming.
It took him seven years to experiment with various materials. He finally got a breakthrough by converting an old cycle he found in his backyard, with some pieces of iron, into a plough.
The ploughing machine that he invented would cost only Rs 3000 to 4000.
Compared to the cost of a mini plough, bullocks or tractors, this is a more economical option for farmers.
The machine is simple, economical, and easy to assemble. With a single wheel, front and rear handles, and three diggers attached to it, the machine does not require fuel such as diesel or kerosene to operate.
“All it requires is two men,” said Prasad to Times of India, “I have also helped many farmers by converting their old bicycles into a ploughing machine.” He also adds that other than just ploughing, the machine also can be used for weeding and sowing.
Ploughs currently available in the market start at Rs 20,000, and are either manually operated, or mounted on a bullock or a tractor. But the cost only increases with bullocks and tractors. Generally, a pair of bullocks cost Rs 50,000, while a tractor costs as much as Rs 500,000. Along with that, there’s the variable price of fuel or fodder, which creates a dent in their finances.
Prasad’s innovation has caused a significant reduction in production costs. All it needs is a cycle. Plus, there’s no fuel requirement. In situations of droughts and economic crises, such an invention could change the lives of farmers tremendously.
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