Tropicultor: small farmers can sit pretty on this machine
It is a multipurpose machine similar to a tractor and requires no fuel
Photo: M.J. Prabu
HARDY AND AFFORDABLE: An official of ICRISAT explaining the working parts of the machine.
TROPICULTOR IS a bullock drawn, user-friendly field machine, developed by researchers at the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) at Patancheru in Andhra Pradesh.
It is very popular with small and marginal farmers of Andhra Pradesh, who cannot afford to purchase a tractor.
No fuel requirement
One advantage with the tropicultor is that like a tractor it is a multipurpose machine. It needs no fuel for operation.
The machine enables uniform depth of seed placement in the field for better crop growth, easy fitting of attachments and operation. Reductions in labour charges, saving in seed and fertilizer cost are some of the other features, according Dr. William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT.
The machine, priced at Rs 50,000, takes care of ploughing, ridging and sowing and is particularly suitable for pulses, millets and oilseeds cultivation. It can also be converted into a cart for transportation.
There are four ploughs that can be attached to the tool bar and used for ploughing.
Sowing of seeds and application of fertilizers can be done at the same time, whereas if these are done manually, 6-7 persons are required.
Sowing large areas
By using this device sowing can be done in 4-5 acres in a day. A person operating it can conveniently sit during operation unlike in traditional ploughing where one has to walk along with the bullocks, explained Dr. Suhas P. Wani, Principal Scientist of the institute.
Though farmers were initially apprehensive whether two bullocks could pull the tropicultor with four ploughs, field experiments conducted in the institute proved that two animals could do this. The demand for the machine had increased among the farmers, explained Dr. Wani.
At present, tropicultors are being used by farmers in Andhra Pradesh. Karnataka and Maharashtra. Compared to tractors, the demand for this machine is quite high as it is affordable to small and marginal farmers. A tractor costs about 6 lakhs and the loan repayment period runs to 6-7 years. The procedures for obtaining the loan are quite long.
Even if the small farmer buys the tractor, he has to rent it out to other farmers when not in use in his field to earn money for repayment.
In such a situation, frequent breakdowns due to harsh driving, lack of spares, poor maintenance, low quality fuels, and lubricants affect the performance of the machine.
Need for analternative
Under such conditions, a need for developing an alternative farm power system such as draught animal power for mechanising farm operations was felt and the tropicultor developed, explained Dr. Wani.
"I am happy with the functioning of the tropicultor," said L. Nanjundiah a pearl millet farmer in Welchal village in Ranga Reddy district. "I find it very convenient, as I can till five acres of my land in a day.
"It has proved to be suitable in dryland farming and more such machines could be introduced all over the State, he said.
Farmers can form small groups and buy this machine and take turns in sharing it in their fields, Dr. Wani explained. For complete information readers can contact Dr. Suhas P. Wani, Principal Scientist and Regional Theme Co-ordinator, ICRISAT, Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh-502-324, email:email@example.com, phone: 040-3071-3466 and 3071-3071(extn) 2466.
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