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 Math 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 Math at Shirālī.
Ever since cultivation started in the paddy fields belonging to Shrī Chitrāpur Math, 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.
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 levelling 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. 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 reduce dependence on daily-wage labour which is increasingly becoming scarce for this kind of work.