Murugesan came up with his idea of a rope when he witnessed thread made from the banana plant being used to weave flowers into a garland. However, it was easier thought than done. Initially, the rope would simply split up. Also, there was no machine available that could split the banana fiber. He experimented with machines used to process coconut husk but with no success. In his native area, Murugesan says some machines are used to process coconut husk into ropes, and he first tried processing the banana fibre using the same technique but with no success. He then thought of inventing his own machine. After many attempts, he developed a spinning machine using bicycle wheel rims and pulleys. He further invested Rs 1.5 lakh to improve the device and patent it. In 2017, Murugesan was finally able to develop an automated rope-making machine.
The initial hand-wheel mechanism to make rope from the banana sheath would use five people per wheel for the process, with each wheel yielding only around 2,500 metres of rope. With the new machine, the production capacity rose to an average of 15,000 metres, utilizing one machine and four people in all. The company initially started with 10 people and now employs over 350, mostly women. The turnover is 1.5 crore annually.
Nilesh was facilitated at the 15th FGI Awards for Excellence, 2018 where he received the Best innovative work award in the field of agriculture development, His innovation got financial support for marketing and prototype development under MVIF from GIAN and SIDBI.
Murugesan has received the PMEGP (Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme) Award from Khadi and Village Industries Commission under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises; National Farmer Scientist Award from Union Ministry for Agriculture; and Best Entrepreneur Award from Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Jabalpur.
“What we do is braid the strands together to achieve a good tensile strength. We had to make sure that the products that we were making out of this are worth the money,” he said.