Mr. Dwan Khream is a small farmer of the Ri-Bhoi district in Meghalaya. Among other vegetable crops, he mainly grows rice on his 1.5 acre of land which falls under 50 per cent plain and 50 per cent sloppy categories- a prominent feature of the ‘hill farming’ in the NEH region. Despite good yield from paddy, Dwan did not make profit by selling it at nearby market as impurities mixed with rice due to traditional winnowing method had reduced the price of the paddy. Then, on advice of scientists, he used “Hand Operated Winnower” which made winnowing easier and resulted in better income.
Total 5-6 labours are required to start traditional paddy cleaning where rice crop is beaten by two or three persons on wooden logs. After collecting the rice in big baskets, these are raised above the head by a person standing on a self-made bamboo-frames platform to clean husk and impurities from rice. Sometimes, the person has to stand long on the bamboo-platform to wait for a gust of wind. Under such threshing operation, the standing person has to balance himself against the flow of wind. Since the method of paddy cleaning is wind dependent, arrival of monsoon, or untimely rains, also got spoil the rice crop permanently. Other than this, many farmers use dao (chopper), spade, hoes, sickles, country plough, bamboo made leveller, and transporting baskets for different farm jobs. Following the age-old threshing technique, rice quality deteriorated, resulting into poor market price of the same crop.
Hand operated winnower
Agriculture Engineering Division of ICAR-RC-NEH Region, Barapani demonstrated ‘Hand operated winnower’ to few farmers in Meghalaya, so that they could clean paddy crop timely maintaining. Practically, the Hand Operated Winnower is a machine that uses fan blades, chain and sprocket arrangement to enable fan operations faster with little effort. Weighing around 29 kg, the Hand Operated Winnower is provided with a fan guard to prevent any accident
Extra Income Generation
Dwan purchased the machine at Rs 3,000 from the ICAR institute. He re-threshed his paddy and noticed the difference. This time, he got better quality rice follwed by better market price thereafter. Seeing the difference of rice threshing comparing the old ones, a few of his close friends came to him and used the machine. They were satisfied with the quality of rice. After a short while, on hearing the news that Hand Operated Winnower increased incom, a large group of fellow rice farmers swarmed around him. Mr. Dwan decided to rent the winnower out to fellow farmers at Rs. 100 per user in the local area which brought him Rs. 3,000-5,000 in one-year duration from 2011 – 2012.
“If small and marginal farmers go for it, rice crop alone can give them extra money, and a suitable job also,” said Dwan to fellow farmers during a recent training programme at ICAR-Barapani. There is considerable scope for this technology, since rice covers about 3.5 million hectare (10% of the total rice growing area of the country) in NEH Region. On an average, output of the winnower, taken by the local farmers, was recorded to be as 2.5-3.5 q/h.
(Source: NAIP Mass Media Project, DKMA, with input from ICAR-RC-NEH, Barapani and Agriculture Engineering Division, ICAR)