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Innovator Details

In Dharampur, Hiren Jayeshbhai Panchal, a young man from Rajpipla, has started a workshop called Mittidhan in Bilpudi to improve and develop innovative, durable and affordable hand tools for farmers. In this process, he also provides employment to the local welders, helpers, painters, and blacksmiths. His innovations include hand-held farm implements for children with knowledge of agriculture and a washing unit that can wash more utensils with less water. The washing unit is currently installed in 15 hostels in Dharampur, Kaprada and Bilimora. He participated online in the UN SDSN Youth Solutions report in collaboration with friend Ellen Francis, and Mittidhan was selected as a finalist. The Youth Solutions report highlights startups and youth-led projects aimed at achieving sustainable development goals around the world.

Innovation Details

According to Hiren Panchal, agricultural tool manufacturers generally target urban gardeners and not the rural farmers. Studies show that 37% farm households own land parcels smaller than 0.4 ha. Traditionally, available tools are designed for land holdings greater than 1 ha. This causes hardships for the small farmers who are faced with high input costs as they have to invest in tools meant for higher land holdings. Also, lack of tools means more manual labor, and the worst sufferers in most cases are women working on the fields who have to deal with various health issues. Added to these are loss of productivity in ploughing and plucking of crops. The lack of tools for small land holdings and the resultant issues motivated Hiren to develop customize tools for small rural farmers. His primary focus has been to produce affordable, durable and sustainable tools for small and marginal farmers. In total, he has developed 35 tools with various extensions, with the average price of one tool at INR 140. Additionally, some of his revenue also comes from tools that can be used for horticulture, by urban farmers, and tool kits to introduce children to agricultural practices.

These tools increase farm labor efficiency upto 3 times over conventional tools and consequently, improve the agricultural yield (Primary research, and feedback). Several studies show evidence on how mechanization can help improve yield in small farms (Wang, Chen, Gupta & Huang, 2015). They also reduce human labor and occupational hazards in farms, as discussed by Dwivedi & Kiran (2017). Mittidhan is established in the rural and tribal belt of south Gujarat (Dharampur). The production team includes youth from the region. The company collaborates with local technical institutes for training. The primary sales are through local markets (haat bazaars), where Mittidhan has direct interaction with farmers. Tools are distributed through other channels such as CSR, NGOs and farmers cooperatives. The promotional material is drafted in local languages to ensure farmers can maximize from these products. This way the tools reach the grassroots level and enable small farmers to increase their produce, improve their livelihood and contribute to the local economy.   

Small and marginal farmers owning less than 2 hectares land represent 86.2% of the farmers in India, and according to the agriculture census 2015-16, their land holding is ever decreasing. The average monthly income for an agricultural household stood at INR 8931 in 2017 (NABARD, NAFIS, 2017). These meagre earnings leave little opportunity for these farmers to mechanize and thus break the vicious cycle (NSS 70, Report no. 576(70/33/3), 2013).


Gramin Navonmesh Protsahan

Gujarat Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) and Small Industries Development Bank (SIDBI) are working on a project “Gramin Navonmesh Protsahan”. The project aims to strengthen the innovation ecosystem and provide support to innovations from and for grassroots across the country. The selected projects get support for investment funds for stimulating commercialization. The support is provided in the form of a soft loan with a 5% interest rate.

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