Postharvest Mechanization Reducing Losses, Increasing Productivity

Marginal farmers usually harvest and thresh manually to get full-length straw for fodder. Manual threshing involves significant drudgery, creates bottlenecks for planting the next crop and generates losses from delayed processing. CSISA worked to modify threshers to meet the farmers’ needs resulting in an increased customer base for service providers.

In India, farmers with large landholdings from prosperous agricultural states like Punjab can buy expensive and sophisticated machines for farm operations. However, resource-poor farmers with smaller landholdings from states such as Bihar may not have funds to buy these machines.

CSISA has been working to ensure that farmers all along the spectrum of landholdings have access to differently priced and scale-appropriate machinery based on their specific requirements. CSISA has also helped improve existing designs of harvest and postharvest machinery to better meet local needs.

For rice, mechanized threshing offers many advantages over manual threshing in terms of increased efficiency, reduced drudgery, cost and labor savings. Until recently, farmers in Bihar only had two options to choose from – the very large and expensive axial flow thresher or the compact pedal-powered open drum thresher that has low capacity and is difficult to operate for long periods by women farmers, who are responsible for most threshing activities in India. The only medium-sized option was an electric motor powered open drum thresher available from other states, which was not effective as many farms in Bihar do not have reliable access to electricity. Farmers needed a medium-sized, affordable, efficient and portable mechanical paddy thresher. CSISA worked with a local fabricator to modify the existing design and created the diesel engine powered open drum thresher, which farmers could easily buy and use.

Similarly, in collaboration with local dealers, CSISA worked to modify the existing mechanized maize sheller to an electric motor-powered double cob maize sheller, which can shell 150 kg maize per hour and consumes only 2–4 units of electricity. Priced at US$ 126, the machine is also fairly affordable. CSISA worked with partners to bring down machinery costs through diversifying the number of manufacturers and encouraging competition.

Impact in Numbers

Mechanical paddy threshing in eastern Uttar Pradesh reduced postharvest losses by 3 percent compared to manual threshing, helping advance wheat sowing by 9 days.

Written and edited by: Anuradha Dhar, Ashwamegh Banerjee and Cynthia Mathys. Photo credits: Ashwamegh Banerjee, Srikanth Kolari, Vinaynath Reddy, Satish Kumar, Suryakanta Khandai and Wasim Iftikar. Copyright © the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), 2015. All rights reserved. Any opinions, boundaries and names stated herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily representative of or endorsed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) or its partner organizations. Fair use of this material is encouraged. Proper citation is requested.

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