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Category NIF Award
Title Rewarding the Spirit of Innovation Part II
Details The million-tree man Premjibhai Hirabhai Patel – Seed broadcaster for Tree Plantation Category – Agro Forestry Technology and Wide Social Impact National award – First prize It is only an extraordinary individual who can sow more than 45 billion seeds to realize his mission of ‘greening’ roads and other public property. Premjibhai Hirabhai Patel, a resident of Bhayavadar village in Rajkot, Gujarat, has done just that. A trader by profession, he decided to spend his retired life planting trees. He designed a seed broadcaster which can broadcast seeds up to 15 m. In a period of 15 years, he has spent about Rs 3.5 million sowing seeds of different species of trees in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. He has planted trees on public and common property lands including land along the roads, railway lines, bunds etc. He has also designed innovative check dams. Here the innovation lies not only in the design, but also in the institutional arrangements that were initiated wherein local people bore much of the cost of the dams. Premjibhai says that he is inspired by nature and it is this bond which keeps him young and energetic. No wonder then that he decided to learn to ride a motorcycle at the age of 55 years! Even though he is now on the wrong side of the sixties, he continues to be involved in the activities related to watershed development that have been initiated by his organization Vruksh Prem Seva Sanstha Trust. (See HB 7(3):3-4-5, 1996) Yielding a better harvest Dadaji Ramaji Khobragade - HMT Paddy Variety Category : Plant Variety National award – Second prize (joint) If a particular variety of seed is sold in half a dozen states in the country, one would assume that its developer is rich. But such was not the destiny of Dadaji Ramaji Khobragade, a farmer from Nanded in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra who selected and bred a new variety of paddy called HMT. The benefits of his research were usurped by private sector companies, allegedly with the help of agricultural scientists working in an agricultural university. The HMT variety has been developed from a nutrient selected from the conventional rice variety – ‘Patel 3’ (developed by Dr J P Patel, Agriculture University, Jabalpur). Khobragade developed this variety without any support from the scientific community. The HMT variety has an average yield of 40 – 45 quintals per hectare with short grains and high rice recovery (80 %) compared to the parent variety. It is being marketed in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. In the last 20 years, Khobragade has selected and bred seven more varieties of paddy. At 65, Khobragade is the only earning member in his family which comprises his son (who does not earn due to ill-health), his daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Transplanting success Indrasan Singh - Indrasan Rice Variety Category – Plant Variety National award – Second prize (joint) During the early years of the Green Revolution, Indrasan Singh achieved a breakthrough when he developed an outstanding variety of paddy. This variety diffused widely in the Indo-Gangetic plain. Unfortunately, it is only now when he has crossed 90 years that his contribution has come to be recognized. The Indrasan variety (named after its developer) has a yield of about 8000 kg per hectare which is quite high compared to the conventional paddy varieties. The efficiency as well as the rice recovery ratio from paddy is also much higher. The starch obtained from it is of a superior quality. The most distinguishing characteristic of this variety is its red coloured roots. It matures in 120 days and reaches a height of 80-100 cm with long spikelet. Unlike traditional varieties, it has high resistance to diseases. The Indrasan variety now finds its name in the price list of standard seeds. Singh, a resident of Inderpuri village in Uddham Singh Nagar district of Uttaranchal, had converted his farm into a ‘Seed farm’ with the help of Pantnagar University. A freedom fighter, he has been elected eight times as the sarpanch of his village. A fruitful endeavour Antony Samy - Acid Lime Variety Category – Plant Variety National award – Third prize Antony Samy used his considerable experience in acid lime cultivation and developed a new variety of acid lime (Citrus aurantifolia) by grafting rootstock of wild citrus with an ordinary Edward citrus variety. The grafted plants are drought tolerant, short in stature and resistant to quick wilt. These plants grow fast and need less water. Moreover, 90% of its fruits are of the first grade as compared to 60% in the popular variety. The plants start bearing fruits from the third year onwards as opposed to the fifth year in local varieties and the yield is high at 30,500 kg per hectare (the corresponding figure for the local variety is 20,500 kg per hectare). The fruits are bigger in size, juicier and tastier and thus are more suitable for pickle and other processing industries. This variety fetches a good price in local markets. Sixty-two-year-old Samy is the moving spirit behind the Small Farmers Agricultural Engineering Service Centre which has been active in Puliangudi (Kerala) since 1975. Designing solutions Mahabir Choubey - Novel Wood Screw Category: Ideas National award – Third prize Imagine a screw that is designed so that less effort is required to drive it into the wood. Mahabir Choubey of Purulia in West Bengal has developed such a screw. The thread and grooves of the screw reduce the effort required to drive the screw into the wood and also prevent the wood from cracking in this process. Conventional screws become loose after some years and come out of the wood. This does not happen with this screw as it is broader at the tip and the cross-sectional wedges around it give it a better grip. Besides the novel wood screw, 48- year-old Choubey has also conceptualised various systems and devices for controlling accidents in cars, enhancing safety measures in express trains and reducing friction in bearings. He runs a small courier franchising business and also charges vehicle batteries. He was instrumental in starting a local youth science movement in his region. Budding success K C Kuriakose – Young Budding in Rubber Category – Agriculture National award –Second prize When farmers go to court questioning the novelty of a technology, it makes one thing clear. The technology involved cannot be easily ignored. K C Kuriakose has developed a technology of budding – Young Budding in Rubber – that is quite different from the ones in vogue and has achieved considerable popularity. A resident of Karimpuzha panchayat in Palakkad district (Kerala), Kuriakose’s Young Budding is an economically viable technique of vegetative propagation in rubber. Budding is done on one- month-old seedlings while they are in polybags and they become ready for planting in ten months. Plants where the conventional brown budding technique is used can be planted only after two years. With Young Budding, one can save on both labour and time. Seedlings do not need to be transferred to a nursery (this is required in the conventional brown budding). Women are particularly suited for this work as the budding is done on delicate seedlings which require patience and a gentle touch. Significantly, men and women get the same wages for budding – this is not the case in other kinds of agricultural labour. About 90% of the employees at Kuriakose’s nursery are women. In 2001, the Rubber Production Commissioner visited his nursery and later arranged a two-day training session for 15 nursery owners from various parts of Kerala there. The NIF received a copy of legal notice recently questioning the novelty of his innovation. But we persist with our judgment. Helping the honey bee V J Joseph - Fungal Control in Honey Bee Category – Agriculture National award – Third prize In 1984, chalkbrood (a fungal disease) had nearly wiped out the honey bee industry in Kerala. The disease affects the honey bee larvae eventually killing them. The bees that do survive become listless, weak and darker in colour. The queen bee stops laying eggs, ultimately leading to the death of the colony. No medicine had proved to be effective. The only option was re-queening with resistant bee stock which was often not successful. V J Joseph, involved in bee-keeping since 1980, felt that there had to be some way of tackling the disease. A resident of Kanhangad municipality in Kasargode district (Kerala), he developed an indigenous herbal medicine to combat chalkbrood. The cost of medicine for curing a diseased colony housed in one box is Rs 150. This is quite cost-effective since during the peak season (December-April), one can harvest 15-20 kg of honey from one box and sell it at about Rs 60 per kg. Perpetuating traditions Kambel Chulai - Low cost, environment friendly crematorium State Award The Jainitias of Meghalaya continue to practise their traditional method of cremation. However, with time many had started feeling that it was problematic since it involved using a lot of wood. The smoke and fumes generated were also polluting the atmosphere. Not only that, the entire process was quite expensive. Kamebl Chulai, of Jowai town in Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya, has developed a low-cost, environment-friendly crematorium which solves all these problems. The crematorium is built in the form of a long furnace connected to a 36-feet-high chimney at the other end. The intensity of the flames inside the crematorium can be controlled with the help of a chimney cover. Compared to the eight–nine hours in the conventional method, the cremation time is now reduced to less than one and a half hours. Firewood worth Rs 250 is required in this, compared to Rs 3000 in traditional method. Smoke and fumes emitted during the cremation are also reduced by 90%. The crematorium has been installed in the town of Jowai in Meghalaya. Due to financial constraints, Kambel Chulai had to join an automobile workshop as an apprentice in his early teens. A Class III dropout, he has worked as a sewing machine repairman, movie operator, dramatist and sculptor. In 1963, he even fabricated a black and white camera without referring to any books or existing models. Full of energy and enthusiasm, Kambel Chulai has always turned adversities into opportunities. An innovator at heart A N Manoharan – Dual Purpose Rotary Huller State Award Hulling is an essential part of food processing, especially in rural India. Unfortunately, the mechanical hullers which are available are very expensive and people are often forced to go to long distances for processing food grains. A N Manoharan from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, has found the perfect solution - a low-cost, easy-to-maintain and operate dual-purpose rotary huller. The huller has six hollow cylinders with inset plungers, fixed in a triangular shape on each side of a circular disc. Since the six cylinders are not connected, one can grind six items at the same time. The hollow tube with the plunger arrangement is designed in such a way that the disc is equally balanced with the hollow tubes. Therefore minimum power is required to start and maintain the rotation of the circular disc with tubes. When the circular disc is rotated, the plungers pulverize the material put inside the hollow tube. The amount of heat produced during the process of hulling is reduced and so the original flavour of the product is maintained. The rotary huller can be operated manually or by using electricity. Its cost at Rs 5,000 is one-third of the other comparable mechanical hullers. It can be used to grind herbal and non-herbal products for medicines, animal waste for producing fertilizers and also mix and grind various grocery items. Forty-nine-year-old Manoharan has always been inspired by the adventure stories that he read as a child. He worked in the Navy for ten years. While working in Sri Lanka, he devised an ingenious method for crossing lagoons. An accident forced him to discontinue his service. Besides developing a low-cost, affordable miniature flour mill and a safe gas conversion kit for cars, he has also provided innovative solutions to various companies on a commercial basis. He is currently employed by Aarwin Technologies, Madurai, and is involved in identifying and developing eco-friendly waste management methods. He received support from the Micro Venture Innovation Fund (MVIF) for developing the rotary huller. Brimming with ideas Raghava Gowda – Milking Machine State Award Finding skilled labour for milking a small herd of cows is a problem faced by many farmers. But using machines for milking is a luxury which only a large farm or a dairy house can afford. School teacher and farmer, Raghava Gowda, decided to develop some method of milking which would be affordable for all farmers. The result: an easy to operate and low cost milking machine that can milk 1.5-2 litre of milk per minute. The milking machine is made of a set of reciprocating vacuum pumps with a vacuum gauge, a suction assembly unit and an air bubble-free canister with a gasket in which the milk is collected. The machine can be used to remove all the milk from the udder. The cow feels as if it is being suckled and does not experience any pain. The machine, dubbed “Milk master”, is used by many small-scale dairy farmers in the region. The University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, has given Gowda a certificate for his innovation. A resident of Murulya village in South Canara district in Karnataka, Raghava Gowda has an impressive list of innovations to his credit. This includes a gobar gas plant that uses plastic and PVC spares and developing improved plant varieties using grafting. The 52-year-old Gowda is brimming with ideas that could help solve various problems faced by members of his community. (Earlier V A Johny of Kerala had been awarded in the first national campaign of NIF for developing a low-cost milking machine.Gowda's innovation is different and more advanced.) The man with a healing touch Becharbhai Parmar – Veterinary healer State Award Villagers in Banaskantha district in Gujarat turn to 80-year-old Becharbhai Dosabhai Parmar for healing their sick and injured animals. A traditional veterinary healer (pashu vaid), he has cured animals that even veterinary doctors had not been able to cure. He treats all cases free of cost. Becharkaka as he is affectionately known, is particularly famous as a bone setter. He is said to have dealt with more than 1000 major fracture cases. Besides this, he has cured animals suffering from polio, paralysis, bloat, and difficult pregnancies. He learnt about the traditional remedies that he has been using for the last fifty years from his father who was also a veterinary healer. Not surprisingly, with his extensive knowledge and selfless service, Becharbhai has become one of the most revered persons in his village. An ‘electrifying’ idea Nripen Kalita – Zero Head Water Turbine State Award Imagine a turbine that could generate electricity and also pump water for irrigation. A school dropout, Nripen Kalitha channelised his interest in physics into developing a device which can do that. A resident of Jiakur village in Kamrup district of Assam, Kalitha persevered against all odds and succeeded. What is more, his innovation – the zero head water turbine – is now all set to be launched in the market after GIAN (North-East) helped arrange a technology transfer to an entrepreneur Ramesh Aggarwal. The first model that Kalitha developed was made of bamboo. It had blades arranged in a spiral offset design. The axis of the blades was perpendicular to the direction of the flow of water. The offset arrangement ensured that the debris that came in with the water did not clog the blades. Since the water flowed in a spiral path from the entrance to the exit, the arrangement of the blades acted as a screw conveyor. The blades were mounted on a shaft which was connected to a generator that produces electricity. The arrangement of the baffle-operated pump facilitated lifting of water. With inputs from the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, and GIAN (North-East), Kalitha helped in improving his first model. The second model, made of iron, is more durable and easy to maintain. It can generate power up to two kilowatt. Ingenuity personified Remya Jose - Washing-cum-Exercise Machine Category – Student National Award - First All those who wash clothes by hand have often wished for a washing machine that is cheap. But then, frequent power cuts (particularly in the rural regions) would make it difficult for one to use even a low-cost washing machine. Remya Jose, a student, thought of a simple, ingenious solution. She developed a washing machine which does more than just wash clothes. It even provides its users the chance to shed a few kilos! The washing-cum-exercising machine is made of an aluminium cabin which has a horizontal cylinder made of iron net wire. The cylinder is connected to a pedalling system which consists of a cycle chain, pedals and a seat. The clothes that are to be washed are put in the cylinder. The cabin is filled with sufficient water and washing powder is added. The clothes are left to soak for at least ten minutes. Subsequently, one needs to pedal for few minutes. This causes the cylinder to rotate with the clothes in it, cleaning them thoroughly. The water can be drained out and refilled and the process repeated. Finally, all water is removed. The clothes can even be dried (about 80% dry) by pedalling for some more time. The machine can be made easily and would not require expenditure of more than Rs 2000. Remya, a resident of Kizhattoor panchayat in Malappuram district, Kerala, had developed this washing machine two years ago after her Class X exams. Her mother had fallen ill and she had to wash the clothes. A brilliant student, Remya has also been involved in extra curricular activities winning numerous prizes. She is keen on becoming a doctor. Compassionate creators Sanket V Chitagopar and Prashant V Harshangi - Modified Stick for the Visually Challenged National Award - Second It is difficult even for those gifted with sight to fully comprehend the obstacles that the visually challenged have to overcome every day. So think of those who are visually challenged. But high school students, Sanket V Chitagopar and Prashant V Harshangi, have made a commendable effort in developing a device that would aid the visually challenged substantially. A stick which can detect pools of stagnant water, moist soil and manholes and comes armed with its own unique anti-theft-alarm - the wireless, electronic stick developed by the two 17-year-old students could certainly benefit many including sewage workers and miners and others who work in situations where light is dim or not available. The electronic stick uses a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) with a host of components, including integrated circuits semiconductors, resistors, capacitors and diodes along with headphones. The body of the stick is made of a one-inch PVC pipe. Moisture sensing electrodes help detect stagnant water and moist soil. Micro switchers help detect manholes. An FM transmitter and receiver have been incorporated in the design. This makes the system wireless. Multiplexers are used to sense obstacles in different directions simultaneously. The user receives inputs on the obstacles in different directions through a head phone. The two friends, struck by the plight of a visually challenged man who had injured himself when he accidentally fell into a pool of water on the road, decided to develop a walking-stick that could sense such obstacles. Their friends and families have helped in developing the innovation. They are particularly grateful to their school teacher R Hemant and Prof Y N Ravindra who encouraged them and also provided valuable inputs. A dyeing art Patan patola Special Honour for Outstanding Traditional Technology Currently pursued by only four families in Gujarat, Patan patola is a traditional form of silk textile. The process of making Patan patola silk saris is extremely complex, time-consuming and expensive. The designs are dyed on to the fibres before weaving. About 500-600 g of silk is required to make one sari and the silk used costs Rs 2000 per kg. However, the exquisite designs and colours that last – patola saris usually survive for more than 300 years – make it the prized possession of many families. The high prices of original patolas – the starting price is Rs 60,000 – only adds to its lure. The families of Kanubhai Mafatlal Salvi, Satish Chandra Kantilal Salvi, Sevantilal Lehar Chand Salvi and Vinayak Kantilal Salvi are engaged in making Patan patola. These families, who have continued the practice, do so mostly out of sheer passion for their work. They say that it has proved to be extremely difficult to find persons who can be trained because preparing a patola requires skilled labour, precision, calculation and patience. (To read more about Patan patola, see HB 14(4) and 15(1) December-March 2003-4)
Volume No. Honey Bee, 15(4):4-9, 2004