Name : K R Chandran
District & State : Alappuzha, Kerala
Category : Agro based food processing machinery
Award : National
Award Function : 2nd National Grassroots Innovation Awards
Award Year : 2002
R. Chandran (46 years), is an expert technician of Alapuzha district, where he lives with his wife and two children. Although he had studied only up to the 5th standard, he became a highly skilled workshop mechanic through experience and hard work. He is interested in innovating machines related to agriculture. Earlier, he had developed a machine for threshing paddy, putting in one and a half years of hard work and experimentation. This machine has now become very popular in Kuttanad belt. Seeing his ability to innovate, the then Industries Minister Mrs. Susheela Gopalan requested him to develop a machine for coir defibring. Chandran developed this machine too by putting in years of persistent efforts and hard work. He spent around Rs 8 lakh for developing this machine in his workshop Sujit Engineering Works at Mohamma. Coir Board granted a loan of Rs 1,50,000/-. The condition was that he was to repay the loan amount along with 18 per cent interest even if he could not manage to manufacture the machine. This was the only option. He had to fructify his idea. “Taking loan from loan sharks would have meant paying an exorbitant rate of interest interest, to the tune of Rs 6 lakh, ” he says. “That would have broken the back of my business. Today I am paying only Rs 1500/- per month towards interest.” Coir Board also agreed to help him market the machine. The machine is sold at a price of Rs. 3,25,000/-. There have been a few differences that have cropped up lately between him and the coir board. However, technical director of the coir board was quite unequivocal in acknowledging that this was the first mobile defibering machine. He did have some doubts about output efficiency. But then struggles of this kind are part of every innovators life. Chandran awaits the next challenge to stimulate his genius and develop several more machines. This is a mission in which NIF will be a willing partner.
The need for a machine to specifically defibre coconut husk/frond was felt because the conventional method of beating the husks manually was a cumbersome, giving low output. It also damaged the fibre while separating the pith of the husk. This machine was devised with the object of removing the shortcomings of coconut defibrers available in the market. The idea was to get more output and employ least possible labour; while keeping the quality of fibre high and cost of the machine affordable.
The machine functions on a very simple principle. The integument of the coconut fruit, called husk, is manually passed through a conveyer. Spiked pressure plates located inside the machine work on the husk resulting in the separation of the pith from the fibre. Fibre and pith are delivered separately from the respective outlets. Minimal damage is done to the fibre during the process. Consequently, the fibre obtained from this machine is very strong and of good quality. About 3200 husks can be defibred by this machine in a day. Only two people are required to operate this machine, compared to 12-15 people needed for operating a medium sized conventional machine. It works with a 10 HP motor as compared to the 37 HP needed by the old large sized machine. The machine is compact and portable. There are several models available in the market ranging from Rs 8 lakh to 25 lakh or so with a maximum output of 8000 fronds a day. His machine is far cheaper and productive, compared to the available machines.