Warangal students design ‘Rythanna kit’ for farmers and win innovation award
Three young Telangana farmers’ daughters have found an indigenous remedy for rice farmers’ post-harvest losses due to unseasonable rains.
‘Rythanna Kit’, which literally means farmers kit, developed by N Swetha, V Laharika and G Chandana, second year electronics and communication engineering degree students from the Government Polytechnic College for Women in Warangal, won the prize for the Best Design Thinking Innovation in the Youth for Social Impact (YFSI) program on Wednesday.
The YFSI program is an initiative of Telangana State Innovation Cell, in collaboration with Telangana Department of Higher Education, UNICEF India, Inqui-Lab Foundation, Y-Hub and Yuwaah.
The trio designed a bag-like blanket made of high-quality tarp with zippers and mesh at regular intervals to emerge winners surpassing more than 11,800 students from 490 colleges across the state. Since these covers are to be used season after season, they come with an organic rat spray in addition to gloves for farmers and rubber bands to cover the sharp edges of an agricultural shovel. They also provided tarp strips to repair the bag, in case there was any damage.
“Our bags are 18 feet by 24 feet, which is enough for 25 to 30 quintals of grain or crop on one acre. They can be rolled up and packed like a suitcase. The lifespan we provide is five years,” says Laharika, from Nalgonda district.
The girls received mentoring support of Rs 1.5 lakh. They now wish to submit their proposal to the government for a wider application of their “kit” for the benefit of all farmers.
“We are daughters of farmers. We saw our fathers worrying about the unseasonable rains and the destruction of piles of grain,” says Swetha, from Rajanna Sircilla district, dedicating “Rythanna Kit” to his father N Raji Reddy.
“Farmers use tarps to cover their grain and protect it from moisture and rain. I saw my father suffer losses due to delays in paddy supply. As a family, we went through a tough time and we thought it was a good way to give back to the family of suffering farmers like us,” quips Laharika, who adds that the kit offers a complete and cost-effective solution.
The students surveyed the villages of Yellapur, Bavupet and Kaniparthi and interacted with over 100 farmers and heard their concerns.
Chandana says that sometimes the whole piles of paddy grains were soaked by heavy rains accompanied by wind, even though they were covered with leaves by placing stones in the corners. Sometimes birds sting on them and make holes in the covers or the sharp-edged agricultural shovels used by the farmers also damage the cover, she adds.
Asma Bushra, the college’s faculty representative, says the team didn’t compromise on quality when designing the product. “It had to be profitable and advantageous. Otherwise, why would farmers use it? ” she says.
A prototype of “Rythanna Kit” is currently being used by a farmer in Warangal district. “We could provide it for Rs 2,500. If he had bought a regular tarpaulin or a plastic sheet of the same size in the market, he would have spent Rs 2,800. But our product has a much longer lifespan” , says Chandana.
Raja Mettu, an entrepreneur and mentor to the YFSI team, explains that the modified tarpaulin bag was tested against conventional methods in terms of weight and moisture content of the grain, before and after drying. “This product is best suited even in rainy conditions because it is designed in such a way that water runs off and does not penetrate through the mesh provided for ventilation,” he notes.
“We would like to do further tests on a larger scale and finalize the product for the market. We will seek government support for wider application,” adds Mettu.