In October 2021, a CSR development project implemented by S M Sehgal Foundation started in fifteen villages of Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh. These villages are mostly populated by marginal farmers.
The aim of the community‑led project is to impart sustainable solutions in the themes of agriculture, livelihood, and entrepreneurship development. For enhancing income in agriculture, entrepreneurship‑oriented mechanization in small farming is promoted.
During the needs‑assessment of this project, it was revealed from the community that wheat harvesting through combine harvesters is common in this area due to the high cost of manual harvesting. However, the use of combine harvesters leads to the loss of wheat straw that could have been used as cattle fodder, and leaves crop residues in field. For the preparation of the field for the next crop, the farmers generally burn the crop residues, which results in environmental pollution. To address these challenges, the project team proposed the use of a multi‑crop harvester/reaper. A multi‑crop reaper can harvest ten to twelve acres of farmland per day of crops like wheat, paddy, mustard, pulses, sesame, soybean, barley, oat, and fodder crops. This reaper machine is suitable for all type of tractors, and the harvesting operations can be done in a much better way than manually or through combine harvesters. Harvesting by these reapers are cost-effective, save drudgery, and there is no loss of wheat straw for fodder. They are also environmentally friendly. The machine provides a new opportunity of entrepreneurship in agriculture.
In February 2022, one multi‑crop reaper was provided to each of the villages of Husaini, Kajraut Bangar, and Undi, in order to be demonstrations for the entire cluster of the fifteen project villages. The villages were selected on the basis of their potential for maximum coverage by the reaper, thereby providing benefit to maximum number of farmers. The criteria for the selection of the reaper‑entrepreneurs were: the farmer owning a tractor, the farmer was willing to use the machine in the land of fellow farmers as an enterprise, and the farmer is experienced and well‑accepted by the community.
Ajay Kumar, the recipient of a multi‑crop reaper from Undi village says, “I heard about the project Parivartan from my neighbor, Sonveer, who is a Village Development Committee (VDC) member. A few months later, in February 2022, Sonveer visited me and asked me to join the ongoing VDC meeting, since my name had been proposed for being a beneficiary for a reaper by the VDC. Here the project facilitator explained to me about the benefits of multi‑crop reaper machine, and that I would need to contribute a subsidized amount of INR 22,000 (total cost is INR 55,000) for this reaper. I searched for information about this machine on the internet, and discussed with my friends and fellow villagers. I also reasoned that since the project had been working on several beneficial initiatives in my village, the reaper intervention too must be good. Thus I made up my mind to go ahead.
In March 2022, the multi‑crop reaper was handed over to me and installed on my tractor. In the early days, some people mocked me by saying that I would not be able to recover my investment, but after observing the machine’s performance in two acres of my wheat farm, my machine was in demand. Within five days I got back my invested amount of INR 22,000, and by April 12, 2022, I had harvested fifty-eight acres of land growing wheat. For this, I charged INR 1,400 per acre, and my gross earning was INR 81,200.
One of the reasons of the popularity of the multi‑crop reaper machine is that the per acre harvesting cost is only INR 1,400 in comparison to INR 4,800 through manual harvesting, as well as it is a source of earning for the farmer‑entrepreneur.”
Authors: Chhaya Singh and N P Singh
(Chhaya is field assistant and N P Singh is program lead, Agriculture Development with S M Sehgal Foundation)