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Field gadget gift for farmers

Ranchi, July 24: Krishi Gram Vikas Kendra, an NGO, and Usha Martin engineers have developed a cheap machine for weeding paddy fields.

Called the Krishi-Usha Weeder, the machine is easy to use and can be manually operated to increase rice production as it converts weeds into organic manure.

The NGO, run by Usha Martin Group under its corporate social responsibility programme, has already received thousands of orders from Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Bengal and Jharkhand. “The instrument saves 15 man days of labour on an acre. Farmers can save Rs 1,500 per acre if they use the machine,” said Basant Kumar Jhawar, the chairman of Usha Martin Group.

Engineers of Usha Martin Somen Sengupta and Omkar Burman designed the gadget after studying machines developed by Birsa Agriculture University (BAU) and Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT). While weeding machines developed by agriculture universities, including BAU or OUAT, costs between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5000, Krishi-Usha is pegged at Rs 700.

Rajesh Singh, the manager of a farm owned by the NGO at Rukka, said they had dispatched 200 instruments. It has a handle on top and sharp iron blades at the root that cuts weeds and breaks them into pieces, simultaneously burying them in the soil. In the process, the soil gets the oxygen it needs.

Farmers wishing to use the tool will have to sow paddy following systematic rice intensification system.

“Under this system, paddy grains have to be sown in a line leaving a gap of 8 inches between two lines. It is in this gap that the weeding instrument is run,” Singh said.

Traditionally, women are allotted the task of de-weeding a field. “If SRI method of farming is adopted and the weeder is used, production is bound to increase,” said Sundar Mahto, a farmer of Ormanjhi.

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