Cotton plucking is one of the most back breaking activity in the whole process of sowing and producing and marketing. Manual plucking is a prominent way to get the cotton balls. But manual plucking of raw cotton could soon become a thing of the past if cotton farmers take to the newly developed hand-held machines that run on batteries.
The device has been developed by SIMA-CD & RA (The Southern India Mills Association - Cotton Development and Research Association), in association with Point Industries, a sister concern of the Coimbatore-based Sharp Industries. This indigenously developed machine, priced at ₹9,500, would pluck only mature bolls without trash and contamination. Reports show that the trash content is less than one per cent against the normal average of 2 to 3 per cent.
The machine can help a farmer pick 60 to 80 kg of cotton per day against manual picking of 12 to 20 kg/day. This machine is expected to be a boon for the farmers, keeping in mind the picking season is round the corner. The manual picking cost alone accounts for one-third of the total cost of cultivation for the farmer. By using this plucker, the farmer would be able to bring down the labour cost by 20 per cent.
K Selvaraju, Secretary General, SIMA, said , “The association has been persistently persuading the Ministry of Textiles, especially the Cotton Corporation of India, to extend support for the machine. Thanks to the efforts, the Union Textile Minister, Smriti Irani, directed CCI to place an order for 300 machines – 100 each for its branches at Akola, Ahmadabad and Warangal.” As per his comments, the machines have been supplied and the farmers have been trained. The trials have proved successful. CCI is planning to place an order for 500 machines this year. Meanwhile, a demonstration is on for the farmers in Telangana held.
The TN Government is said to be offering this machine at ₹8,500, with a 50 per cent subsidy to help farmers buy the equipment and strengthen the area under cotton cultivation. Selvaraju said SIMA has invested around ₹2 crore on plant and machinery. “Sharp Industries makes the machine on our behalf,” he added. He also said “close to 20-million farmers are involved in cotton cultivation directly. This would go a long way in saving labour cost for the farmer, besides ensuring clean cotton as well. The agriculture ministry has various schemes, but we have not been able to persuade them to support this development.”