Sep 25, 2009

Farmers innovate with appropriate technology

Easy handling: N. Sakthimainthan, demonstrating his water lifting device.

Farmers are great innovators. I have often admired their ability to come up with appropriate technologies. But for the educated and the elite, farm technology is only relevnt when it comes from a private company (or public sector). If you look around you will not only be amazed but shocked to learn that the agricultural extension machinery only promotes that technology which is coming in the form of a saleable product. If you have nothing to sell, the extension machinery has nothing to promote.

The Hindu published a report yesterday that I thought should be of immense help to farmers not only in Tamil Nadu but elsewhere too. It should also come in handy for the numerous organisations and institutes that work for the farmers.

Hand operated device to obviate power supply problems

By M.J. Prabu
The machine seems to be a good alternative for small farmers

CONSTANT electricity fluctuation and irregular power availability for irrigation are daily problems faced by many farmers for a long time.

If one travels through the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, especially during the early morning or late night hours, one can see farmers sitting next to their motor pumps waiting for electricity, to irrigate their crops.
Though many farmers use diesel operated pumps, a suitable alternative, which requires neither diesel nor electricity and yet meets their irrigation requirements, may be welcome.

Suitable alternative

Mr. N. Sakthimainthan, paddy farmer of Nannilam village, Tiruvarur, Tamil Nadu, says that a simple hand-operated water-lifting device developed by him may be helpful to small farmers who are looking for a suitable alternative.

“With zero installation and running and maintenance cost, this is a very useful product for marginal farmers. Being portable to fit at any site, and simple to use, it is best suited for their routine work in all seasons and requires just one person to run the equipment,” says Prof Anil Gupta, Vice Chairman, National Innovation Foundation (NIF), Ahmedabad.

The farmer grows paddy in his one acre and to0 meet his irrigation needs, he used to laboriously collect overflowing water from nearby fields and well using a bowl like structure made of discarded tyre tubes. As this work proved cumbersome and required additional labour to lift and pour the water into the fields, he decided to build a hand operated water-lifting device to irrigate the field from a canal or pond and drain out excess water from cultivated land.

First, he developed a machine using a wooden propeller and an iron rod to rotate but this mechanism did not work well, as the water flowed back.

Suitable modification

He started to think up ideas to modify it and used an old air-blower to create vacuum suction for inflowing water and placed the impellers inside the suction.

But operating it proved difficult. So he fixed a chain and sprocket mechanism to overcome the trouble but still some water used to splash on the face of the operator while rotating the handle. To address this problem, he made a two-drive system with four impeller blades.

"But difficulty in operating the handle with this integration of impeller and air blowing device made me think of using iron frames, tin box, and cycle chain and sprocket mechanism," he says.

Read the full report at:


Anonymous said...

This is fantastic. I'm writing to them for an online photograph or two. Then we could share the idea with our poor peasants.


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