Advances in technology are key to the future of agriculture as farmers strive to feed the world with limited natural resources and combat climate change. It was with this in mind that ace innovator Uddhab Bharali began inventing and came up with over 140 gadgets whose simplicity of design and mechanism mask their usefulness in agricultural work.
Based in Lakhimpur on the northern bank of the Brahmaputra in Assam, Bharali says his vision is ‘to change the agriculture scenario and boost the economy while being environmentally responsible.’ From simple tasks like pomegranate deseeding and peeling cassava to bigger ones like paddy seeding and processing tea, Bharali has designed machines for a range of uses.
Background of Uddhab Bharali
Here’s the story of ‘serial innovator’ Uddhab Bharali, a man whose energy-efficient and low-cost machines are simplifying several agricultural processes for many. Born in a middle-class business family in North Lakhimpur District of Assam, Bharali completed his schooling from Lakhimpur. The academically bright Bharali was often asked by his teacher to stand outside the class because he asked ‘difficult questions’ in mathematics.
‘I loved mathematics. I even tutored some of my classmates to help them get good grades. After completing first grade, I was promoted to third grade and from Class VI, I was promoted to Class VIII,’ he states.
After graduating from school at 14, Bharali decided to take admission in the Jorhat Engineering College. However, had to drop out of engineering college because he could not afford to pay the fees and had to care for his family. In order to pay his father’s debts and to cater to his natural flair of developing new machines, he developed a new polythene making machine to cater to the demand from surrounding tea estates in Assam.
The one-of-a-kind machine
This new machine was developed at a subsidized cost of 67,000 INR as compared to the exorbitantly priced branded machines which then costed around 4 lakh rupees.
This machine could separate the outer hard skin from the inner thin membrane without any damage to the seed, easily de-seeding around 55 kg of pomegranates per hour. Orders started pouring in, including for export to Turkey and the US after that, and he finally made his mark as an innovator. And since then, there has been no looking back for him.
Bharali also developed an areca nut peeling device that could peel around 120 nuts in a single minute. With the aid of National Innovation Foundation, this and the other machines he invented (for different operations such as cassava peeling, splitting long lengths of bamboo, sizing, surface finishing etc) were installed at North Cachar hills. Reducing hours of back-breaking labour, his simple innovations were a great help to the large number of local people for whom agriculture was the sole source of livelihood.
In addition to these devices, many of his innovations like remi recortication machine, garlic peeling machine, tobacco leaf cutter, paddy thresher, cane stripping machine, brass utensil polishing machine, safed musli peeling machine, jatropha de-seeder, mechanised weeding machine, passion fruit juice extractor, trench digger and a chopper for cattle and fisheries feed are popular and being used in foreign countries.
Among his popular innovations is the mini tea plant for green tea and Crush Tear Curl (CTC) tea, aimed at helping the growing population of small tea growers of Assam.
Bharali’s cement brick-making machine is another marvel that can be operated by anyone—including people with disabilities. The Central Silk board sought his guidance to redesign a sophisticated reeling machine. He also designed a stevia pulveriser & passion fruit gel extractor for North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project (NERCRMP).
Source- The Better India