Though farming is the primary source of livelihood for a majority of Indians, it remains dependent on weather conditions and availability of resources like water. Little wonder that the ongoing drought is leaving farmers desperate.
While farmer suicides haunt headlines and experts predict the situation might worsen, small but significant steps are being taken in rural India to ensure that farmers are relieved of their burdens.
One such changemaker is P. David Raja Beula whose Drought Fighter solar water pumps optimise crop yields with minimal water and fuel resources.
David at a demonstration of the Drought Fighter Sprayer
David is the assistant director of Horticulture Kadayam in Tirunelveli, a district in Tamil Nadu. Invested in agricultural development, he has, over the years, helped local farmers make the most of available resources, micro financing options and has also developed solar devices and traps for pests.
“When I went to visit the local fields, I noticed the farmers struggling to draw water from wells,” he recalls. “Once I was at a bus stand and found a small packet of jasmine flowers for sale. The seller told me that the farmer’s motor ran for just an hour and this was all they got. I decided to meet the farmer and he told me, in tears, that all his plants would dry up in a month.”
David assured the farmer that he would help him. And so he did. Not only did he advice the farmer to get some water, he went on to develop a solar spraying device, which he labelled the Drought Fighter Sprayer. “All he had to do was add cocopeat to the soil, and use the sprayer,” he says.
His first solar device was primarily meant for small farms that thrive on vegetable and floral farming. As David interacted with farmers and tested his devices, realisation dawned that the same principles could be applied to develop bigger pumps as well.
The drought fighter solar pump is a portable device, equipped to draw water from up to 20 feet into the ground, making it possible to reach deeper sources of water.
David’s portable solar pump in action
The device is accompanied by a solar panel, suction tube, a small delivery tube and a spray gun. The suction tube helps farmers draw water from ponds and smaller water bodies. To water the crops, the delivery tube must be attached to the spray gun. The solar panel keeps fuel consumption low and the equipment comes with battery back-up as well.
Additionally, the device can also be used to spray compost and soluble fertilisers and David also recommends it for dairy farms, where workers can use it to channel cattle waste instead of cleaning it manually.
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The products are fruits of long and hard work for David who took years of design and development, and multiple rounds of testing with farmers to bring the equipment to its present state.
“I wanted to help and so I studied [agricultural concerns and equipment] to find my own solutions,” he says. “I start by thinking about the problem faced by the farmers and make diagrams of the designs. Once I have finished the design, I work with electricians to create the devices. It isn’t easy—it took nearly five years for me to develop the machine.”
David also used the feedback he received from farmers to improve the product. He has conducted four training sessions, introducing over 100 farmers to time-saving methods of watering and farming.
His innovations have not only impacted farmers in Tirunelveli, but are also gaining in popularity around the country.
Image for representation. Source: Flickr
David takes orders from around the country and has shipped his devices to Patna, Noida and Mumbai. He hopes that his devices will help farmers, not just in Tamil Nadu but everywhere, to combat the lack of agricultural resources more effectively.
“When NGOs get in touch after they read an article, or children show it to their parents in the newspaper, it makes me happy to have done something to help,” he says humbly. As he continues to work on the model, he is gradually laying the groundwork for such sustainable devices to reach more people in need.
To get in touch with P. David Raja Beula, click here.