Innovators on a mission to make agricultural work easier

Kashmir is known to be the first region in the world for the cultivation of saffron but for years its production has been in decline.

A large population of Pampore, also known as the saffron city of Kashmir, is involved in the production and processing of the crop, which is not only time-consuming but also has adverse health effects. This led a young engineer to come up with the idea of ​​making a saffron processing machine.

Tariq Ahmad from Befina, Drangabal belongs to the family of saffron farmers. He has first-hand experience of the effects caused by processing saffron.

As the processing of saffron is done manually, the red part of the flower is considered the expensive part which is used in food, medicine, cosmetics, etc.

He said, “The red part called the stigma has the root attached to it. If we remove the root at the beginning, the quality of saffron will be degraded. The root is then removed from the stigma manually by the workers, which takes a lot of time and effort. »

He added that the removal process is so meticulous that it takes 5 workers 1 day to remove the stigma from 1 kg of saffron.

“It is done with the hands where the quality as well as the hygiene factor is compromised. In addition, this work causes neck pain, back pain and eyestrain for the workers,” he added.

Moreover, he said that for such intense work, young people are hired. “Older people are not able to do this because it requires good eyesight and huge energy, so young people are preferred for this work. For a little money, they drop out of school halfway, which has lowered the literacy rate in the village,” he said.

He said, “They are content with little money, but they don’t know that when they get old, they won’t be able to find a job. They waste their whole life for a few dollars.

Keeping all these in mind, the idea of ​​making a saffron processing machine came to her mind, which could boost the saffron industry and the young people in her village could also take the right direction.

“If the quality of saffron is improved, it will benefit everyone. I got the idea when I was pursuing my B. Tech. but it requires huge sums of money which I was not able to afford at the time,” he said.

Work on his machine continues. The proof of concept has been done and now the prototype of the machine is under development.

“The stigma is very thin and there are a lot of things to consider when making the prototype. I have completed as much work as possible,” he said.

Tariq said that making such machines is not every engineer’s job. His knowledge and family background surely helped him.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Noor Zaman Khan, he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Production Engineering from NIT Srinagar. He also plans to make a machine for picking saffron flowers and petals in the future.

The innovator received financial support under the program titled Support for entrepreneurial and managerial development of MSMEs through incubation.

The program is supported by NIT Srinagar’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development (IIED) Incubation Center, where innovators receive technical assistance in addition to financial assistance from the MoMSMe program.

Another innovator, Naik Qayoom, also received support under the program for his automatic seeder.

One of the seed sowing methods – row sowing has been the productive way of growing crops and this method has also been adopted in Kashmir. The machines used in the process cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, which the poor cannot afford and therefore resort to by hand.

The innovator observed that the process done manually puts a lot of strain on the backs of the farmers and the process is also time consuming. In addition, the precision of the row sowing method was very important, which the farmers could not do manually.

“In sowing in line, the distance between the seeds must be maintained and the equal number of seeds is supposed to be sown at all stops, which sometimes does not happen when done manually,” he added. .

To avoid all the health effects and hassles, he came up with the idea of ​​making an automatic seeder with an accurator.

The accurator counts the seeds to be sown and also maintains the distance between the two sowing points. The machine will dig the soil, deposit the seeds and put the soil back on the seed, thus avoiding manual intervention. Also, a sack-like container was made to transport the seeds.

“The machine will cost much less than those already available on the market. Also, the machine has parts and each part can be sold individually according to the farmer’s needs,” he said.

The innovator approached IIEDC NIT Srinagar where with technical support it was transformed into an industrial business machine.

“Professor Saad Parvez told me that we will present the idea at the national level. Nationally, it was one of the ideas that was selected from 20-25 ideas across India and also received a good grant,” Naik said.

NIT Srinagar supplied the machinery and laboratory facilities to Naik where they made further modifications.

“I was also shortlisted by another university but skipped that because I trusted NIT Srinagar. NIT’s help made this possible. We have completed the proof of concept and are almost in the final phase,” he added.

A native of Anantnag, Naik said he mainly focuses on the field of agriculture which needs to be modernized with scientific innovations.

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