KRISHNAGIRI: Innovation is not a strange word for M Selvaraj, a 58-year-old farmer from Krishnagiri. Invention of simple and innovative farm machines has made him a hero among his peers in the region, now reeling under an unbearable price inflation in farm equipment.
Selvaraj owns 2.75 acres of land at Sesurajapuram village in Anchetti taluk, which is about 110 km away from the district headquarters. In his picturesque farm, he mainly cultivates crops such as groundnut, tomato and millets.
Having started farming as a teenager, Selvaraj initially began experimenting with different farm equipment. Soon, he was fashioning simple farm machinery, with parts drawn from other farm machines and household articles. After years of trial and error, the proud farmer now boasts of an array of innovative equipment, including for sowing, ploughing, weeding and bed formation. Made using cycle tyres, blades, wooden sticks etc., they can be bought for as little as Rs 500.
Among his most prized innovations are a fan he created to keep wild boars away, a land bedding machine and weeding equipment. “Before starting cultivation, I use a rotavator to level the land. After that, I switch to farming equipment made by me. These equipment save me a lot of work and there is no need to depend on workers as well. Usually, farmers spend over Rs 20,000 per season to hire workers for bed formation, sowing, weeding, earthing and other work. But using my inventions, our family members themselves take care of all aspects of farming without being dependent on workers.”
These days, he is busy guiding farmers from nearby places on the need to think out-of-the-box. He also travels to other villages and helps farmers solve their crop-related issues. J Gabriel (53), a farmer from Kounder Kottai near Sesurajapuram, shares that he has built a simple weeding machine inspired by Selvaraj’s equipment. He says he spent just Rs 2,000 making it and has been using it successfully for the past four years.
Meanwhile, farmers from Anchetti and Dharmapuri district are also approaching Selvaraj for ideas and equipment. He has taken to social media as well. Another farmer K Chandran (41) of Anchetti Pudhur village said he has been using the weed-removing equipment bought from Selvaraj for Rs 2,500 since 2018. “These days, labour has become expensive. Earlier, I needed four persons to remove weeds and had to spend Rs 250 per day for each person. Now, just one person is enough.” He added, “A few relatives even borrow the equipment from us for farming and return it later.”
Assistant Director of Horticulture, Thalli block, S Arumugam said that Selvaraj is an inspiration for small farmers. “His equipment can be used by small farmers and they can benefit by saving wages spent on workers,” he said.
Selvaraj said the State government should utilise funds from the rural employment guarantee scheme (MGNREGA) to make workers indulge in farming activity. This will be highly beneficial for farmers hurt by labour shortage, he said. He also requested officials to provide shade nets for coriander and carrots cultivated in his fields.