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Researchers Develop Cost-Effective System to Carry Crops from Farm to Collection Points

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) and a farmer’s NGO have created a special, effective and affordable agricultural transportation system that overcomes labor scarcity, a significant problem faced by Indian farmers.

Sonali Behera
Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) and a farmer’s NGO have created a special, effective and affordable agricultural transportation system.
Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) and a farmer’s NGO have created a special, effective and affordable agricultural transportation system.

The lightweight monorail-style transportation system can affordably carry agricultural products from the fields to collecting locations close to the farms. An IIT Madras team tested this prototype cableway system at a farm in Nanjai Thottakurichi village of Karur district in Tamil Nadu in collaboration with "Pothu Vivasayeegal Sangam," a non-governmental organization for farmers.

One of the main problems affecting the Indian agricultural sector is a lack of power for farming operations. It is difficult to cope with this problem after harvest when considerable labor is needed to transport agri products from the field to nearby collection points (paddy, sugarcane, banana bunches, etc.). It is tough for laborers on wetland farms to cross waterlogged land with headloads.

An affordable and straightforward answer to this issue is offered by the transportation system created by Prof. Shankar Krishnapillai of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Madras in collaboration with the farmers' NGO.

Prof. Shankar Krishnapillai, Department of Mechanical Engineering emphasized the distinctive characteristics of this transportation system and said “The proposed agricultural system is based on the very simple design concept and components, and easy to be implemented in any local farm. Additional rails and posts can be easily added, and the range can be scaled up to over a kilometer. Also in the future, the trolleys can be powered by a battery power pack charged by solar energy.”

According to estimates, a modest farm would require 32 workers each day to transport agricultural products to collecting locations. However, with the implementation of the transportation system, the required number of agricultural employees would drop to just four.

The Pothu Vivasayeegal Sangam President, T.N. Siva Subramanian, established this transportation system on his farms in Tamil Nadu's Nanjai Thottakurichi village's Karur district. The system was built using money donated by M/S Cholamandalam Insurance for corporate social responsibility.

Siva Subramanian explained how the transportation system may assist in resolving the problems encountered by farmers and said, “This agricultural transport system is useful specifically for farmers who cultivate crops along the riverbanks. For instance, many farmlands in the Karur region are directly irrigated by the canals of the Cauvery River. As a result, it becomes extremely difficult for labourers to carry produce through these wetlands. The agricultural transportation system helps to address this issue.”

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