Technology in Our Paddy Fields
Under the loving guidance of Parama Pūjya Sadyojāt Shaṅkarāshram Swāmījī, we are encouraged to apply our talents, creativity and expertise in the Sevā of our Mat͟h and the Samāja at large. Shailesh Chandāvarkar mām responded to this encouragement by coming up with an experiment for employing mechanical techniques in some of the processes involved in rice cultivation in the fields of Shrī Chitrāpur Mat͟h at Shirālī.
Ever since cultivation started in the paddy fields belonging to Shrī Chitrāpur Mat͟h, traditional manual labour was used in sowing, transplanting, weeding and harvesting of rice. It has been a constant challenge to find daily-wage labour skilled in these processes. Shailesh mām, who hails from a family of agriculturists, did some research and came up with an alternate solution for the paddy season of 2020. After obtaining Approval and Blessings of H.H. Swāmījī, Shailesh mām conducted some trials in the Ratha-Gāddă that is located just outside the Math gates.
The benefits of using Shailesh mām's approach were many. The traditional method of hiring daily-wage labour for manual work required 35 women and 6 men working 5 hours per day for two days to complete the transplantation process in the one and half acres of the Ratha-Gāddă The same work was done using an automatic transplanting machine in only three and half hours with just one operator and two men. Not just that, only 21 kg of paddy seeds were used as compared to the earlier 40 kg. After a 15 day interval, the weeding process commenced using a weeding machine hired by Shailesh mām. This process of weeding is typically done three times and if the need arises, manual weeding maybe done by two daily wagers. Even while harvesting, using a reaper significantly reduced the labour and time required.
Mechanization in all the aspects of cultivating paddy meant choosing, procuring, hiring and supervising every detail with meticulous precision. Mild-steel angles of a particular thickness, frames with specific dimensions, paddy mats with exact specifications, mixture of soil, manure and sand in the exact ratio to be spread on the paddy mats, tilling, perfect leveling of the rice field, transplanting the paddy mats in the rice field, hiring of equipment and skilled labour were just some of the many things that had to be overseen with precise care and an eye for detail by Shailesh mām.
Four months after transplanting, Shailesh mām and his team were ready to harvest the fruits of their committed effort. Using a reaper, the harvesting was completed with only three people, well within three hours while the traditional method would have required 22 labourers working six hours a day, for one and a half days. Following the harvesting, the paddy was separated from the straws at the Ratha- Gāddā Gāddă itself and not at Kembre, as was the practice for the past few years. The final yield amounted to 19 quintals (61 kg) of paddy which was five quintals more than the yield that had accrued over the last several years-indeed, a moment of pride for Shailesh mām and his team! Shailesh mām offered this Sevā to the Mat͟h and Guruparamparā saying, “I am very thankful to Our Beloved Swāmījī for the ultimate Support and Guidance to try out these innovations in agriculture, which will help increase our produce manifold.”
Watch a summary of the entire process in the captioned video below:
These trials at Ratha-Gāddă seem to suggest that mechanising the cultivation of paddy would not only be cost and time effective,but also more productive while reducing dependence on daily-wage labour which is becoming increasingly scarce for this kind of work.