Since 2015, villagers of Nilanga in Latur, Maharashtra, have been troubled by water scarcity and poor rain affecting farming, loss of labour and cattle.

Like others, Maqbul Shaikh, who has 3 acres of agricultural land, was in dire straits. The 43-year-old farmer gave away his bullocks, owing to lack of fodder and drinking water.

But Maqbul turned this crisis into an opportunity and built an innovative bullet tractor at 1/10th the cost of the one in the market.

In 2016, he started working on a model with scrap material and engines. “The vehicle had to be small, but powerful enough to carry out heavy farming activities,” he says.

“Having worked as a mechanic at my brother’s workshop, I knew the technicalities involved and decided to make a three-wheeled vehicle with a 10 Hp engine. I used a discarded bullet motorcycle for navigation and driving.”

It took him two years to come up with a working model. “A refined version of the product was ready in 2018. The vehicle can be used for sowing, weeding, spraying pesticides and ploughing the field,” he adds.

Maqbul says the normal tractor costs Rs 9 lakh at least, and with tools and equipment, the cost can increase up to Rs 14 lakh. But the bullet tractor is priced at Rs 1.6 lakh.

He has also created a 5Hp and four-wheeled bullet tractor to sell at Rs 60,000 for those who cannot afford the 10 Hp one. So far, 140 bullet tractors have been sold.

“The vehicle is also claimed to be fuel-efficient. A litre of diesel lasts for 1.5 hours in the bullet tractor. For a regular one, double the amount of fuel would be needed,” says Sudhir, one of the farmers.

He says he never expected his innovation would benefit so many farmers. “I’m glad I could make a difference in their lives by making farming easier and cost-effective,” he says.

His innovation has earned him the Krushi Ratna Award from the Maharashtra government, as well as the Yuva Krushi Sanshodhak Award, among others.