Three youngsters from Telangana who are daughters of farmers have come up with an indigenous remedy to paddy farmers’ post-harvest losses due to unseasonal rain.
‘Rythanna Kit’, literally meaning farmers’ kit, developed by N Swetha, V Laharika and G Chandana who are the second-year diploma students in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the Government Polytechnic College for Women in Warangal won the best innovation award in design thinking under the Youth for Social Impact (YFSI) programme Wednesday.
The YFSI programme is an initiative by Telangana State Innovation Cell, in collaboration with the department of higher education of Telangana, UNICEF India, Inqui-Lab Foundation, Y-Hub, and Yuwaah.
The trio has designed a bag-like cover made of high-grade tarpaulin with zippers and meshes at regular intervals to emerge winners surpassing over 11,800 students from 490 colleges across the state. Since these covers need to be used season after season, it comes with an organic rat-repellent spray besides hand gloves for farmers and rubber strips to cover the sharp edges of a farm shovel. They have also provided tarpaulin tapes to repair the bag, in case there is any damage.
“Our bags are 18 feet by 24 feet in area, which is enough for 25 to 30 quintals of grain or harvest from one acre. They can be rolled up and packed like a suitcase. The life span we assure is five years,” says Laharika, a native of the Nalgonda district.
The girls have received a mentorship support of Rs 1.5 lakh. They now wish to place their proposal before the government for a wider application of their ‘kit’ for the benefit of all farmers.
“We are daughters of farmers. We have seen our fathers worry about unseasonal rains and grain piles getting destroyed,” says Swetha, a native of Rajanna Sircilla district, dedicating ‘Rythanna Kit’ to her father N Raji Reddy.
“Farmers use tarpaulin sheets to cover their grain and protect them from moisture and rain. I have seen my father suffer losses due to delay in the procurement of paddy. As a family, we had a tough time and we thought this is an apt way to give back to the family of farmers who suffer like us,” quips Laharika, who adds that the kit offers a complete and cost-effective solution.
The students surveyed the villages of Yellapur, Bavupet, and Kaniparthi and interacted with over 100 farmers and learned about their concerns.
Chandana says that at times the entire paddy grain piles would get soaked in wind-accompanied heavy rain even if they are covered with sheets by placing stones at the corners. Sometimes birds prick on them and make holes on the covers or farm shovels with razorback edges used by farmers also damage the cover, she adds.
Asma Bushra, the faculty representative from the college, explains that the team did not compromise on quality while designing the product. “It had to be cost-effective and beneficial. Otherwise, why would farmers use it?” she says.
A prototype of ‘Rythanna Kit’ is currently being used by a farmer in the Warangal district. “We could provide it for Rs 2,500. If he would have bought ordinary tarpaulin or plastic sheet of the same size from the market he would have spent Rs 2,800. But, our product has a much longer life,” says Chandana.
Raja Mettu, an entrepreneur and the team’s mentor from YFSI, says that the modified tarpaulin bag has been tested against conventional methods in terms of weight and moisture content in grain, before and after drying. “This product is best suited even in rainy conditions because it is designed in a way that water will flow and not enter through meshes that are provided for ventilation,” he notes.
“We would like to do further tests on a larger scale and finalise the product for the market. We are going to seek the government’s support for a wider application,” Mettu adds.