The North-eastern region lying between 21.5o N – 29.5o N latitudes and 85.5o E – 97.3o E longitudes comprises of eight states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. It produces only 1.5 % of country’s food grain production and continues to be a net importer of food grains even for its own consumption Manipur lies between 23.80 N to 25.70 N latitude and 93.50 E to 94.80 E longitude. The hill region comprises of five districts viz. Senapati, Tamenglong, Churachandpur, Chandel and Ukhrul and the valley region consists of four districts, viz. Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishnupur. The hill districts occupy about 90 percent (20089 sq km) of the total area of the State and the valley occupies only about tenth (2238 sq km) of the total area of the State. The unit operation-wise reduction in cost of operation could be achieved by use of light weight and reduced size matching improved equipment for production of major crops in plains and hilly region of Manipur. The timeliness of operations, reduction in labour, time, and inputs can result in overall reduction in cost of production up to 30% for rice, maize, mustard, black gram, potato and other horticultural crops. The package of improved equipment to be included are power operated rotary tiller, power tiller operated inclined plate planter, manual knapsack sprayer, power tiller operated orchard with turbo nozzles, manual 4 row rice transplanter, manual 4 row rice seeder, manual cono weeder, manual wheel hoe, power tiller operated potato planter, power tiller operated potato digger , self-propelled vertical conveyor reaper, power tiller operated post hole digger, improved sickle and tubular maize sheller, motorized wire-loop paddy thresher. The package cost of Rs 5 lakh including power tiller is able to command 7.5 ha per annum which can be recovered in five years period with the annual use of total 500 h in the region. The safety aspects on all improved machinery use need to be taken care of and sensitization programme for creating awareness in this regard is regular process especially while using rotary tiller, harvester and small power thresher. Few suitable proven designs developed at other places have good potential for promotion in Manipur in participatory mode through frontline demonstrations ar mentioned below:
Manually operated tools an equipment
Rotary dibbler: The rotary dibbler is a manually operated push type device for dibbling of medium and bold size seeds. It consists of a rotating dibbling head with penetrating jaws, covering-cum-transport wheel, seed hopper with cell type wooden roller and a handle. It is suitable for dibbling of maize, soybean, sorghum, pigeon pea and bengal gram crops in well prepared seed bed. This implement costs Rs 2300 and its cost of operation is Rs 280/ha. It covers 0.6 to 1.0 ha/day and labour requirement is 27 man-h/ha.
Seed drill for sowing on hill slope: A seed drill suitable for sowing on hill slope with steep gradient was developed by NEH centre. The part of its weight is transferred to his neck, giving more stability while moving on steep slopes. A seed hopper (2 kg capacity) is provided. Chain and sprockets mechanism is provided for flutted roller type metering mechanism. A right hand operated hand crank is provided to assist in pushing the seed drill while going up the slope. The implement is suitable for upland paddy, pigeon pea and maize crops.
Mustard seed drill: It is a manually operated implement suitable for sowing rapeseed and mustard. The implement consists of a seed box attached to the mainframe of a hand wheel hoe. It costs Rs 1,500 and its cost of operation is Rs 240/ha. The implement has been accepted by the farmers especially for inter row sowing. The implement can also be used in terraced fields of hilly areas.
Low land rice seeder: The seeder consists of a seed drum, main shaft, ground wheel, floats, and handle. Joining smaller ends of frustum of cones makes the seed drum. Nine numbers of seed metering holes of 10 mm diameter are provided along the circumference of the drum at both the ends for a row-to-row spacing of 200 mm. The field capacity varied from 0.07 to 0.10 ha/h with labour requirement of 15-20 man-h/ha. The traditional method requires a total of 964-1000 man-h/ha.
6-row rice transplanter: The rice transplanter is a manually operated equipment suitable for transplanting of mat type rice seedlings in rows in puddled soils. It consists of floats made of marine plywood, seedling tray for mat type nursery, a tray indexing mechanism and pickers for planting seedlings. It can cover 0.04-0.05 ha/h and labour requirement is 40-50 man-h/ha. It costs Rs 6,000 and cost of operation is Rs 1250/ha as compared to Rs 2,000/ha with manual method.
Wheel hoe: It is a manually operated long handled push-pull type tool widely used for weeding and interculture in row crops. The number of wheel varies from one to two and the diameter depends upon the design. The frame has got a provision to accommodate different types of soil working tools such as straight blades, reversible blades, sweeps, V-blade, tine cultivator, pronged hoe, miniature furrower, spike harrow (rake) etc. It costs Rs. 800 and its cost of operation is Rs 2000/ha. It covers 0.10 ha/day.
Cono weeder: The cono weeder is used to remove weeds between rows of paddy crop efficiently. The weeder consists of two rotors, float, frame and handle. The float controls working depth and does not allow rotor assembly to sink in the puddle. The orientation of rotors creates a back and forth movement in the top 30 mm of soil. It is easy to operate and does not sink in the puddle. Push pull operation of cono weeder in between rows makes weeding effective. It costs Rs 1900 and field capacity is 0.18 ha/day.
Naveen Sickle: It is a serrated blade sickle suitable for harvesting wheat, rice and grasses. The wooden handle has a bend at the rear for better grip and to avoid hand injury during operation. It costs Rs. 60 and cost of operation is Rs. 2000/ha. The field capacity of sickle is 0.018 ha/h and labour requirement is 80 man-h/ha.
Tubular maize sheller: It is a manual hand operated sheller suitable for shelling maize from dehusked cobs. Shelling is done by holding the sheller in left hand and gradually inserting the cob into the sheller by right hand with little forward and backward twist. (to be contd)
(Y Jakender is the Head, Dept of Agri Engg, College of Agriculture (CAU), Imphal. RK Tiwari is the Ex. Research Engineer, CAEPHT (CAU), Ranipool, Sikkim and SK Chauhan is the Asst Prof, CAEPHT, Ranipool, Sikkim)