(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Reducing Drudgery Through Technology [MAY-2018]

(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Reducing Drudgery Through Technology


Reducing Drudgery Through Technology

The major source of livelihood of almost 70 per cent population in our country is agriculture. We always talk about the farming, yield, fertilisers, pesticides etc. One grey area is always left out which is the fatigue and drudgery faced by the farmers and farm labours. Women farmers are an integral part of all these farm activities. According to an estimation of the International Labour Organization, women perform one-third of the world’s counted labour. We consider agriculture as one of the most labour intensive occupations of unorganized sector. In India, majority of work forces are employed in unorganized sector, where health and stress are worse. Heavy workloads and drudgery are resulted in stress and poor health in agricultural work which usually have been overlooked.

Types of Drudgery for Farmers:

it is seen that farmers, especially women farmers and farm workers are engaged in a number of agriculture and farm operations such as seeding, transplanting, weeding, thinning, harvesting, winnowing etc. All these labour intensive works lead to drudgery or fatigue in the form of physical or mental stress. Researchers have found that due to farming related drudgery, most of the farmers suffer from frequent headache, backache, and sleep disorder, abdominal pain, sore throat or running nose with fever. Crucial examples of women farmers have also been noticed facing depression, anemia, abortion, miscarriage and other gynecological problems. When we consider women farmers, it is obvious that they face greater amount of total drudgery as they shoulder almost entire workload of household activities and child bearing along with substantial contribution in farming. When women farmers’ drudgery combines with the constraints of illiteracy, malnutrition and unemployment, the situation becomes more vulnerable.

Minimizing Drudgery:

it is found that ergonomically designed cotton picking bags (Marathwada Agriculture University, Parbhani and CCS, Haryana Agriculture University) have a higher carrying capacity and ease in tying proved significantly superior over those picking bags having longer picking time with less interruptions. These bags exert 37 per cent less load on heart beats, 18 per cent lower energy expenditure. Similarly, tubular maize Sheller, sitting type groundnut decorticator, seed treatment drum, naveen sickle and groundnut stripper have been introduced in past to reduce farmer’s drudgery. The usage results indicate that use of tubular maize Sheller reduced hand pain (80%), shoulder pain (70%), backache (73%) and waist pain (72%) caused by stick beating. The use of sitting type groundnut decorticator reduced finger pain (73%), hand pain (60%), backache (40%), tooth pain (66%) and cuts in mouth (70%). The use of the groundnut stripper also reduced hand pain (80%), shoulder pain (77%) and waist pain (67%). The mixing efficiency of seed treatment drum (98%) was better than the mixing of chemicals with seeds directly by hand (80%) although it took 25 min/qt. which was 5% more than their local practice. It has reduced the itching in hand (63%) and redness and swelling in hand (83%) caused by mixing of seeds by hand. The use of naveen sickle has reduced cuts on finger due to rubbing of hand in harvesting ground level crops (80%), pain in waist and hand (70%) and physical tiredness (73%) caused by local sickle. Such technological interventions have help in reducing the time and physical strain of harvesting agricultural produce.

Seed Drill:

In the traditional method, a furrow is opened by hand hoe in the soil and seeds are placed. These operations are done in bending posture which causes pain in waist and back of the farmers. In traditional practices, placement of seed at proper depth is usually difficult which gives chance to birds and insects for eating/ damage. Often, time for sowing operation is less; the operation is delayed resulting in lower yields. In order to resolve these discomforts and reduce fatigue, seed drill has been developed by CIAE. It consists of a handle, seed hopper, ground wheel, a fluted roller and a furrow opener with seed tube fixed in it. The metering of seed is done by fluted roller which is operated by the ground wheel by a sprocket and chain mechanism. The seed drill is operated by two farmers; one pulls it and the other pushes and guides the equipment for proper operation. It can be used by small farmers for sowing of seeds like sorghum, pigeon pea, soybean, maize, wheat, Bengal gram etc. Capacity of this innovative tool is 0.04 hectare per hour. The cost of this tool is Rs. 5000. It is suitable for placing seeds in the soil at desired depth and seed sowing can be completed in a /shorter time and drudgery is reduced. The crop yield is also increased due to better placement of seeds at proper depth and desired row spacing.

Hand Ridger:

While farming operations, women farmers very often bend or squat and pull the soil towards them to make small ridges and furrows. It puts strain and they suffer pain in the back and shoulders. They often complain of spondylitis. The Hand Ridger is an incredibly simple and useful labour saving improved equipment. Farmers can make ridges and furrows very easily using this equipment. The ridger includes two heart-shaped metallic wings and a pulling beam with T-type handle. it helps to place the soil on either side and make a clean ridge. Two women famers can operate the equipment in the field; one pulls the tool while the other pushes and guides it. The capacity of this equipment is 0.03 hectare per hour and cost is Rs. 700.

Twin Wheel Hoe Weeder:

Traditional manual weeding by hand hoe (Khurpi) is a labour intensive process. Farmers usually bend and keep moving in the field while they take out the weeds and remove unwanted vegetative growth between rows/plants. This causes pain and stiffness in waist, neck and back in the long run due to bending/squatting posture. Women farmers often complain of pelvic pain. The alternate of traditional hand hoe is twin wheel hoe which is a very high capacity equipment suitable for weeding. This tool reduces the drudgery in weeding operation in less time with increased productivity. A simple push and pull action by women using this weeder effectively removes weeds. It consists of two wheels, frame, V-blade, U-clamp, scrapper and a handle. It is a push-pull type weeder that gives high output per worker. The capacity of this tool is 0.015 hectare per hour and cost is Rs 800.

Improved Sickle

Harvesting cereal crops is usually done manually by women workers using local sickle. The local sickle is heavy weighing about 300 to 350 gram which causes pain in wrist. Often conventional sickle causes bruises and cuts on the edge of the palm and thumb. The edge 01 the conventional sickle needs to be sharpened almost daily. On the other hand, the improved and serrated sickle requires less cutting force and the Cutting edge retains the sharpness for a long time. Its low weight (about 150 to 180g) turns less fatigue on the wrist. Also there is drudgery reduction of about 15% as compared to local sickle. it consists of serrated blade, ferrule and wooden handle. A bend of about two inches near the holder helps to reduce the abrasion to hand of farm women during cutting of crops. The working capacity of this improved sickle is 0.015 hectare per hour and cost is only Rs. 60. Crops with herbaceous and dry stems like paddy, wheat, and soybean are suitable for this equipment.

Bhindi Plucker

Plucking bhindi is a messy job since it lacerates the skin of farmers. The fine rather tough and prickly skin of bhindi causes much irritation in harvesting. CIAE has developed a very innovative tool in the form of Bhindi Plucker which offers effective protection from the sticky chemicals with which the hand come into contact while plucking Shims a small sized tool which can be used to pluck Bhindi very easily and that too without causing any itching or discomfort to skin. The working capacity of this plucker is 5-10 K8 Per hour and cost is only Rs. 35.

Coconut Dehusker:

Traditionally deshusking of coconut is done by a sharp iron shovel called Muna fixed on a wooden log or with the help of a long knife which is dangerous and accident prone. With the use of coconut dehusker, pain in arms, shoulders, and lower back is reduced to a great extent. This tool accounts for about 50% reduction in drudgery. Imaginatively designed with the operating handle upwards, the Coconut Dehusker splits/opens coconut partially at several points thus making dehusking by hands far easier. The capacity of this to l i 200 nuts per hour and cost is Rs. 800

Government Schemes and Awareness Generation:

About 25 to 50 per cent subsidies are mad: available to farmers by the Government to ensure the machinery or drudgery reducing technologies /tools/equipments at a better and affordable price. However, the Government has provided ceiling limits to all categories of farmers for the purchase of various agricultural equipments under various schemes of the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation. A few such schemes are Macro Management of Agriculture, National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), National Horticulture Mission etc. Under these schemes, Government has distributed nearly 30.16 lakh improved farm machineries including water saving devices and drudgery reducing equipments. In this connection, capacity building of farmers has also been encouraged through arranging 43656 Farmers’ Field Schools (FFS) at farm level so far.

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Courtesy: Kurukshetra