• Simply Smart Agriculture

    Support for Farmers in India

    show caption

    „Our products make farmers’ work easier. They can deliver at least 50% savings in labor cost and increase process efficiency by 50%.“ – Devi Murthy

The livelihoods of many Indian small-holders are under threat. These farmers have financial difficulties because they have to invest most of their profits in machines and labor to stand a chance of harvesting anything at all. Kamal Kisan’s efforts to address this problem earned it the Aspirin Social Innovation Award in 2016. The company develops affordable equipment specially for small-holders in South India.

Story check

  • Challenge:
    Many Indian small-holders suffer economic hardship. A large part of their income is spent on scarce labor, Non-availably of relevant machines pushs the costs high resulting in losses for farmers.
  • Solution:
    Agricultural equipment that is affordable and can speed up the labor-intensive farm process such as planting of seedlings, for example, helps farmers generate profit.
  • Benefit:
    With the aid of equipment like this, the farmers spend less than 50% of current labor costs and can increase operational efficiency by 50 percent. This boosts the profitability of their businesses and secures their livelihoods.

India is the world’s third-largest manufacturer of tractors. Despite this, more than 80 percent of Indian farmers still tend their fields by hand. The kind of agricultural equipment that can speed up and simplify field work is often too expensive for small-holders to buy and maintain. Farmers invest up to 40 percent of their total income solely in labor, an uncertainty factor endangering the survival of their farms. Kamal Kisan has set its sights on changing this.

Explanatory video: Handy Planter (Source: Youtube - Devi Murthy)

More than

80 percent

of Indian farmers own less than 2 Hectares of land.

Working Fields Quickly and Easily

Kamal Kisan is Hindi for “Super farmer”, and the company in South India has been developing agricultural equipment for precisely this segment since 2013. “Our devices are specially designed to meet the needs of Indian small-holders,” explains Devi Murthy, the company’s founder and managing director. They can be used to plant seedlings in just one step, or to lay a mulching sheet quickly and easily to stifle weeds and retain soil moisture. “Our products make farmers’ work easier. They can deliver at least 50% savings in labor cost and increase process efficiency by 50%. An acquisition like this thus cuts personnel costs, which boosts the farm’s profits.”

The Vegetable Handy Planter can be used to plant seedlings of almost all kinds of vegetables and fruit. The farmers can selectively apply fertilizer to the seedlings during the planting process. Using this device, a farmer can plant the same area in an hour that would normally take four laborers. The Planter is very easily used by a single person, reflecting Kamal Kisan’s motto: “Simple solutions for smart farmers.”
The versatile Mulch Machine is coupled to a tractor. It lays 90- to 120-centimeter-wide strips of mulching sheet on the fields and then covers the edges with soil to anchor them to the ground. Using the machine, two laborers can cover the same area of land in two hours that would otherwise take six laborers a whole day.
The Sugarcane Planter is likewise attached to a tractor. The device performs multiple tasks – plowing furrows, sowing sugar beet seedlings and immediately covering them with earth. After this, a fertilizer container adds nutrients to the seedlings. Work that takes eight laborers five days to perform by conventional means is completed by three laborers in the space of three hours using the Sugarcane Planter.

Focus on Essentials

To develop devices that meet local farmers’ specific needs, the company from Karnataka regularly asks the farmers about the methods they use to work their fields and how things could be improved. “When designing equipment, we focus our attention on basic mechanical functions – without extensive service needs. This means that farmers get cost-effective, low-maintenance and reliable products,” explains Murthy, an electrical engineering graduate. What’s more, she adds, “All the products are very simple to operate and quickly explained. This makes it easier for the farmers to adapt to our equipment.”

Indian farmers invest up to

40 percent

of their total expenditure on scarcely available labor.

Explanatory video: Mulch Layer (Source: Youtube - Devi Murthy)

Innovations for Ten Million Small-holders

Until now, Kamal Kisan has focused on the market in northern Karnataka, a state in south-western India. “We also assist our customers out on their fields,” she says. “We explain the devices to them and help with any technical problems.” Over the next five years, the company plans to serve up to ten million farmers in South India with its innovations. It also intends to supply other regions in the area and to keep on expanding its range of products.

Explanatory video: Sugar Cane Planter (Source: Youtube - Devi Murthy)

Kamal Kisan plans to assist up to

10 million

farmers over the next five years with its innovations.

The Aspirin Social Innovation Award helped Kamal Kisan to publicize its plans and benefit from Bayer’s expertise in the future. “We want to make farming more profitable again for small-holders and also hope that our innovations will assist sustainable agriculture.”

Learn more about here:
Bayer Foundations

Explanatory video: Raised Bed Maker (Source: Youtube - Devi Murthy)