For most of the people, education is just a way to earn money and move ahead. But 25-year-old Deepak doesn’t think so. According to him, the benefit of education is only when it can be of use to some needy. Due to this thinking, Deepak did not catch a job after doing engineering, but got involved in making such an economical harvesting machine for the farmers, so that their hundreds of acres of barren land could be made cultivable.
In the year 2016 when K. When Deepak Reddy returned to his native village after graduating in mechanical engineering from Hyderabad, he had innumerable questions related to farming and agriculture. He lives in village Borancha in Sangareddy district of Telangana. While walking in the village like this, suddenly his eyes fell on an empty land. He says, “Though I had been seeing this empty land since childhood. But after visiting here again and again, I came to know that it had not been cultivated for years.”
Deepak has The Better India “When I asked the nearby farmers why these hundreds of acres of land were lying barren for years? Then he told that it is not possible to do farming there due to stone debris. It costs a lot to remove stones from the ground. First invest money to clear the land and then on farming, it is not possible for them to bear that much expenditure. A marginal farmer cultivating five-seven acres of land cannot spend thousands of rupees on this.”
It is not easy to clean the stones from the barren land
Deepak explains, “Even if farmers are ready to invest money on this land, they will have to work continuously for at least five or six years to completely remove these stones and rocks from the field. The surface layer consists of up to 60 percent stone. It takes many more years to remove them through several cycles of plowing the land.” This work can be done only in the summer months. Because the soil is dry at this time.
When Deepak started researching, it was found that thousands of such acres of land were lying vacant in the adjoining states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. He says, “It was not only in India. Other countries were also grappling with this problem. They had machines to deal with it. But there was no low-cost device in India that could do this work.
After many years of hard work and research, he designed a low cost multi harvester machine for this work. Which not only digs out the stones in a few hours and throws them out, but also digs potatoes, onions and other root vegetables with great cleanliness.
Deepak was upgrading his skills by learning simulation and software designing after graduation. “I decided to use my skills to build a machine that can be attached to a tractor and capable of removing stones from the top layer of soil as well as the bottom,” he says.
Deepak, 26, worked continuously for many years to make the harvester. He says, “My idea was to make such a machine, which is better in every sense for the Indian farmer, with all the necessary facilities and its cost is also low. Then I thought that if this machine could harvest potatoes and root vegetables too, it would be better. This will increase the usefulness of the machine.”
Now just a few hours for days’ work
Deepak started working on the concept of a tractor pull device. He told that the blade in the lower part of the machine digs the soil and takes out the stones. This special technique separates the stone and the soil. Throughout this process, the soil is filtered and falls back into the field, while the stones are collected in the storage basket attached to the machine.
Potatoes and vegetables are also excavated in the same way and separated from the soil. This multi harvester is not only economical but also saves both effort and time. He says, “An agricultural laborer spends a whole day removing stones from an acre of land. For this work he charges Rs 5000 as wages. But this machine of mine can complete this work in just four hours. It will cost around Rs 1500.
The machine also makes digging of vegetables from the ground very easy and fast. “The sooner farmers take their crops to the market at the beginning of the season, the higher the profits,” he says. Engineers have so far cleared 5 acres of rocky area and made it cultivable. He aims to increase this number to 500 acres by next year, selling 25 units.
This machine is better than the machine from Turkey
Santosh Rajput, a farmer from Kangti village in Narayankhed district, said, “I have taken the trial of Deepak’s harvester. It works wonderfully. I have 30 acres of land. But I am able to cultivate only on 15 acres of land. The rest of the land consists of stones and rocks. Even if I try to grow crops on it, the stones heat up on a hot summer day and the plants die because of the high temperature.”
Santosh told that a farmer of the village had procured such a machine from Turkey for this work. Its cost was Rs 12 lakh. Still the result was not so good. The machine made by Deepak is much better than that and its cost is also only three lakh rupees. “If farmers want, they can either buy it together or take it on rent,” he says.
Didn’t get space, so used to work in the garage
It was not easy for Deepak to build the machine. It took four years to make it. He says, “I did not have any partner or team that I could take help of. I did all the work alone and dealt with all the problems that came my way. Money was also tight. I had borrowed Rs 4.5 lakh from my family and friends.” Deepak knew that if his machine worked properly, the financial problems would automatically go away.
Deepak had no place to work. First he worked on it by sitting under a tree in his field and then later going to a friend’s garage.
He explained, “I had achieved 90 percent success with my fourth prototype and applied for the i2E (innovation to entrepreneurship) lab, an initiative of Telangana State Innovation Cell and Make Room India. The consultants helped me build a commercially viable product and also got me a grant amount of Rs 10 lakh from Nidhi Prayas. I was given permission to launch my own startup, “Bhumya Innovations”.
Pranav Hebbar, founder and head of Make Room India, Deepak’s mentor, says, “The objective of this program is to identify entrepreneurs like Deepak, especially from Tier-II and Tier-III cities. They have the ability to solve problems at the grassroots level.” Pranav further explains, “Broadly speaking, in the Sangareddy, Medak, Kamareddy and Nizamabad areas alone, there is stone debris lying on about 1000 acres of land. This land cannot be cultivated. In Nanded, Bidar and other neighboring districts of Maharashtra and Karnataka, 2000 acres of land are lying idle.
Never thought of failing?
According to Pranav, the use of such equipment can increase the cultivable land of the farmers, which is shrinking with the passage of time. With this they can earn better.
When asked whether the thought of failure ever came to mind while building a machine?
Says Deepak, “It was a bit difficult to make the decision to take the risk. It was necessary to get a job after graduation. Because the initial years are important in the making or deteriorating of a career. But I never thought of failure. I didn’t intend to build the machine for commercial gain. I wanted to help the farmers. The benefit of education is only when it can be of use to the needy.
For the time being, they are hopeful that this product of theirs will come in the market soon and it will be used commercially across India.
Original article: Himanshu Nitnaware
Editing: Archana Dubey
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