Meet Ashok - Telangana’s 17-year-old teen innovator

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on November 11, 2019 Published on November 11, 2019

Ashok, Telangana's Teenage innovator. Photo: Special arrangement   -  Special Arrangement

He is known for inventing a portable hand-weeder for paddy farmers

Ashok, a 17-year-old from Suryapet in Telangana, might not be a popular person. But, wait - the low cost, portable paddy hand weeder, all these innovations have made waves at the recently concluded India International Science Festival (IISF), Kolkata.

The Portable hand-weeder for paddy farmers

This device, which helps remove bigger weeds from paddy fields easily, won the first prize for its innovation in the Agriculture category for students engineering models contest.

The immediate beneficiaries will be the women farmers working in the paddy growing areas of the country. These women have to constantly bend forward to remove the weeds manually, which is a strenuous task. Sometimes, the weeds grow longer and have deep roots, making the task more difficult.

Having observed this drudgery on his parents small farm in the Nalgonda district and across the State, Ashok had worked on the idea of a simple device that could alleviate the problem.

He came up with a prototype of the Portable paddy hand weeder.

The Telangana Minister for IT and Urban Development, KT Rama Rao, appreciating the young innovator’s work, has asked the State's Chief Innovation Officer, Phanindra Sama, to provide complete assistance to Ashok to take it to the next stage of application.

The IISF 2019 was organised by the Ministry of Science and Technology & Ministry of Earth Sciences in association with Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA) in Kolkata. This platform intends to inspire curiosity and make learning more rewarding.

A student of agriculture

Ashok is currently studying in class 12th agriculture at the Devarkonda Vocational Junior College, Nalgonda. He wants to invent more products that can solve pressing problems, especially for small farmers. “Unless we provide low cost inputs, implements to small and poor farmers, Agriculture cannot be a viable livelihood in future,” Ashok said.

With three innovations so far to his name, Ashok is a serial innovator. His innovations include, an alarm for the deaf that releases an odour at a fixed time, a multipurpose hand-tool for small farmers that does 4 essential activities at an affordable cost like weeding in cotton and chilli crops, seed-bed preparation in cotton and chilli crops, gathering paddy grains, and dry paddy grass to make bundles.

“The innovator in me was active from Class VI itself, when I used to do experiments out of curiosity. But, it found no encouragement in the government school in Anjalipuram, Huzurnagar Mandal of Nalgonda,” Ashok recalled.

“But, in 2018, I accidentally saw an item in a Telugu newspaper that said - Have an idea, want to talk to the District Science Officer with his number - I tried reaching, but for two months my calls went in vain. Finally, persistence had paid off when I got a chance to exhibit an experiment on the impact of pollution on lungs at a Teachers meeting. The appreciation there triggered more efforts and soon led to the fabrication of the Paddy Hand Weeder at a cost of Rs 200 using waste material. “ I got support from Palle Srujana, an NGO run by an ex Brigadier in Hyderabad and sent an entry to the IISF,” he told BusinessLine.

Ashok wants to focus on innovations in agriculture in the near future. He has nearly two dozen orders to make the products he has invented.

However, the innovator requires a big push to take his innovations to practical and later commercial scale. The Telangana State Innovation Cell (TSIC) said it is willing to step in. It will get T Works, the prototype building facility of Telangana State to help with fine tuning the implementation, link to potential investors etc.

Published on November 11, 2019
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