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Device for improving the efficiency of laborers in cotton picking

The team took on a very important but challenging problem of picking cotton manually from bolls by laborers. They focused more on increasing the efficiency of manual labor instead of mechanizing the process of cotton picking[1]. Since this was not the season of growing cotton, they couldn’t get firsthand experience of interacting with laborers and testing their prototype. However they had the opportunity to interact with two innovators Natubhai and Mansukhbhai, who have given their life for reducing the drudgery of laborers and making machines for picking and stripping cotton from bolls respectively. Both the innovators after multiple trials and iterations came up with their machines. The team worked in the workshop of Natubhai Wadher to make a small model of their idea for demonstration.

One of the factors discouraging the cultivation of indigenous varieties of cotton such as V 797 is the tedious post-harvesting process of removing cotton from unopened and semi-opened shells. Picking of cotton in hybrid varieties is easier because the bolls in the hybrid varieties open up at harvesting stage and sometimes the cotton even falls on the ground. The V 797 variety is extensively grown in many rainfed semi-arid parts of North Gujarat. The shells are removed manually before the cotton is sold to factories for ginning and pressing. While most families do it on their own, a few earn their living out of this job. A large number of old-people, women and children contribute to this labour (Honey Bee, 8(2):3-4, 1997).

One of the team members, Mr Bhargava Reddy comes from a family of cotton farming and hence he took this problem to work on during the summer school. Even though the team couldn’t come out with a working prototype, they got good insights of the process and feedback from mentors which will help them to build on their problem and make a prototype in the future.

[1] Feedback by Prof Anil Gupta: Major breakthrough in their problem statement is that even they are thinking of mechanism which can pick up cotton bolls and put it in bag. Focussing on affordability of farmers and efficiency of labourers. In case of complete mechanisation, judgement of labourers is not there, thus efficiency can be compromised. Productivity, quality, efficiency might be higher in this machine.


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