"Simple & efficient: A sugarcane farmer using Vishwakarma’s machine to cut his sugarcane."
The current method of deploying sugarcane setts proved laborious, time consuming and costly. Mr. Roshanlal Vishwakarma, a farmer in Mekh village, Madhya Pradesh, faced acute difficulties in cultivation and alternative method of planting individual saplings did not help. It was hampered by lack of availability of saplings in large numbers. The farmer wondered whether the sugarcane buds, instead of being planted, could be sown like potatoes on the fields.
He discussed this idea with an expert. Based on the encouraging feedback he received to give it a try, the farmer started working on the idea and developed a simple device after two years of persistent and hard labour.
The device, called sugarcane bud chipper, is floor-mounted and equipped with a knife with a semicircular edge to surgically cut out the buds in a high impact operation, with clean finish and practically no damage to the cane.
“Using this device a person can remove nearly 100 buds in an hour,” says Mr. Vishwakarma.
The machine can also chop the cane into small pieces, is flexible, and can handle various sugarcane sizes and diameters.
Traditional hand-held cutting tools create a strain on the hands and thumb, cause wastage, and damage with slanting cuts, and are incapable of dealing with hard plant graftings.
The bud-chipper consists of a surface plate, holding stand, reciprocating assembly, actuating lever with adjustable screws, connector, U-shaped cutting knife bolted with a spring stopper projecting downward into a matching groove, supporting studs and spiral spring for generating thrust.
The machine, priced at Rs. 600, comes with a guarantee offer of five years. “The unit allows the user to be comfortably seated on the ground and continuously feed the cane with the left hand, while swinging the right arm in a smooth arc to cut the sugarcane buds using the ergonomic spring loaded handle.
The semicircular cutting blade delivers a clean and complete cut in a two step notch and cut operation. The machine requires no power or fuel to run it, weighs a few kilograms making transport easy. The scope of this equipment lies beyond just removing buds from the cane. It can be used more broadly as grafting equipment wherein buds of large plants can also be removed.
“I designed the unit in such a way that it could handle any cane size with the user conveniently sitting on the ground and work. Experimenting with various cutting shapes, I finally developed a U-shaped cutting profile for cutting the bud in one swift movement of the spring loaded handle without damaging the rest of the cane stalk,” he says.
While toying with the idea of a table top version instead of existing floor based version, he realised that the design would become more complex to feed the cane at the exact height when used by various users.
Secondly, he noticed rural users were more comfortable with the floor based model than table-top handling.
He also started developing a folding type bud chipper which did not find favour among local users. So he discontinued the model. Many sugarcane farmers in the region are now using Mr. Vishwakarma’s machine to save time and money.
For details contactA labour saving device, Science & Technology Column, The Hindu
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