Tractors are too expensive for small-holder farmers in India and draft animals are becoming increasingly difficult to feed in drought-prone areas. A farmer in the Indian state of Gujarat has come up with an innovative solution. Taking his inspiration from auto-rickshaws made from converted motorcycles, Mansukhbhai Jagani modified an Einfield Bullet motorcycle into a multi-purpose cultivator that can perform all of the functions of an ox—without the daily requirement of fodder!
The rear wheel of the motorcycle is removed and replaced with two smaller wheels and various implements. The motorcycle pulls a retro-fitted chassis which can be adapted to perform shallow plowing, weeding, sowing and spraying. It can be easily converted back into a motorcycle for transportation.
The Bullet Santi, as it is called, has several advantages over other types of cultivators. First, though price estimates vary, it is more affordable than larger tractors. Second, because of its smaller size and lighter weight, the Bullet Santi causes less soil compaction than larger models. Third, the Bullet Santi is fuel efficient—it can plow two acres on just one liter of diesel.
At just 6.5 HP, the Bullet Santi is not as powerful as a larger tractor, but more powerful than a draft animal. Most farmers in Jagani’s region of Gujarat already own a motorcycle, so adoption of the new technology was rapid. Now hundreds of farmers use the converted motorcycles. For nearly twenty years Mr. Jagani has been running a workshop in his village which converts and repairs the cultivators. Similar workshops have cropped up in other areas of the state.
The invention has the potential for global application among small farmers all over the developing world. The Bullet Santi has been displayed at innovation expos in other parts of India as well as in South Africa.
The inventor won a National Award from India’s National Innovation Foundation’s Competition for Grassroots Innovation and Traditional Knowledge. Patents have been granted for the product in India and the United States. With little in the way of formal education but with a resourceful approach to solving problems, Mr. Jagani is typical of India’s inventors. India is famous for frugal, or jugaad, innovation which applies simple fixes to complex problems. In fact, Mr. Jagani didn’t stop with the Bullet Santi. His other inventions include a bicycle-operated agricultural sprayer that can spray four acres in three hours, and a seed and fertilizer dibbler designed to reduce fertilizer waste.
Watch a short video about the Bullet Santi on India Innovates: