Raghava Gowda |
City: South Canara
Raghava Gowda hails from Pallathadka, Murulya village in the Sulya taluka of South Canara district in Karnataka. A schoolteacher by profession, he is 52-years-old and is brimming with ideas that would help solve various problems faced by members of his community. His father was also a schoolteacher. He acknowledges the support provided by his family throughout the process of innovation. He attributes his success to willingness to work hard, kindness and truthfulness to his parents. These virtues according to him have contributed a lot to his growth as an individual. Raghava is respected and held in high esteem, and his innovations are by now legendary in his village.
Finding skilled labour for milking a small herd of cows is a problem often faced by a small-time farmer. Adding to this is the fact that milking by hand is not considered healthy or hygienic anymore. But milking using a machine is a luxury which only a large farm or dairy house can boast of, calling for a huge investment in power supply and machinery. All of these set school teacher-farmer, Raghava Gowda, thinking very hard about developing an alternate means of mechanized milking which would be affordable to all farmers.
A keen observer and a fast learner, Gowda observed the working of the Gutter spray pump, used for spraying pesticides. He came up with the idea of using PVC teat cups and a plastic pipe on the Gutter pump. Thus he developed the first machine and began experimenting on his own farm. But for this the teat cup had to be moulded according to the size of the teat and he had to heat the PVC pipe. But milking using this device proved to be quite painful for the cow as an excessive vacuum was created. To solve this problem, a vacuum container was adapted. With this addition, milking could be done from four teats. Experimenting with it further he switched over to a foot press. Then he fitted the vacuum pump on a four legged fabricated frame which later was replaced by a three-legged frame to provide stability. A vacuum level gauge was provided to know the level of the vacuum generated. To reduce the strain on the operator he then tried out a gear and wheel vacuum pump set-up. A stainless steel can, lid and stainless steel junctions for the teat adaptors were also introduced. Further trials resulted in reducing the milking effort by adopting alternate pulsing for each set of two teats and by reducing stroke and diameter of vacuum pump. It took him four years of hard work and 15 models to finally arrive at the successful milking machine, which costs lesser than other milking machine available in the market and at last Raghava is satisfied that the machine is problem free.
Raghava has developed an elaborate, refined milking machine that can milk cows and buffaloes using a set of reciprocating vacuum pumps with a vacuum gauge, a suction assembly unit and an air bubble free well gasketed milk canister to receive the milk. The suction assembly has two sub-assemblies with a set of nipples and stainless steel plate on one side and transparent conduit pipes and a regulator valve on the other.
Each of the sub-assemblies are taken apart for cleaning before and after every milking operation.The udder and teats of the cow are also washed with cold water and wiped using cotton cloth. The hand lever attached to the pumping unit is cranked till a vacuum of 200-250 inches is created in the suction–nipple unit. This is attached to the udders and the milk gets deposited in the receiving canister via the transparent conduit pipes. When air bubbles flow along with the milk, the operation is stopped and on gently pressing the top of the teats, the teats get released. The control valve and vacuum pressure gauge, located on the main pumping unit, control the suction circuit and the milk receiving canister via the transparent conduit pumps. The four nipple suction configuration can alternate pulsations between two sets for the operation for facilitating milk flow and reducing milking time.
Good publicity in the press helped and soon his phone was ringing off the hook, with frantic and urgent enquiries about the milking machine. This is now widely used and appreciated by small-scale diary farmers in his area. As of date he has sold 170 machines and has another ten orders in hand from states like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu also.
He has got good responses from universities, banks & other government agencies. The University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, had given him a certificate during the Krishimela. The Syndicate bank, Hiriyadka, also has given a certificate in appreciation of his innovation. But so far he has not been approached with any business enquiries or for licensing the technology.
The advantages of this milking machine are manifold. It is easy to operate, costs low, saves time as it milks 1.5 litre to 2 litres per minute. It is also very hygienic and energy-conserving as electricity is not required. All the milk from the udder can be removed. The machine is also easily adaptable and gives a suckling feeling to the cow and avoids pain in the udder as well as leakage of milk.
A life-long innovator…
Raghava had started innovating at the tender age of ten when he fashioned a Spray Gun out of bamboo and a noodle-press which was followed a couple of years later by a bamboo pump. His resume of innovations also include a rotating toy using heat and light, a Gobar gas plant using plastic and PVC spares. Improving his innovations has always been a priority for him as he devised a method to improve the productivity of gobar gas using two drums and he also ran an engine using the gas. He has also won an award for creating an artificial Queen Bee and his interview was broadcast on AIR, Mangalore.
Experiments at his farm:
He has developed a sprayer which can machine spray areca trees. This sprayer uses a gutter pump with a control mechanism in hand and costs about Rs.350. It is easy to use, assemble and dismantle and he has been using it for the last 12 years. He claims the method is cost effective and efficient and that the sprayer can spray in a 360° direction and to a distance of 20ft that can cover around 20 areca plants.
He has developed a fodder cutter that slices even hard fodder material like coconut and Areca Palms easily. He claims that the present fodder cutter he is using is unique and more efficient and safer to handle and that he developed it six years back. Now he has developed a new model with some modifications and is selling it at a cost of Rs.750.
Raghava Gowda also practises many alternative as well as resource saving technologies as part of his daily life. He uses solar energy to light the lamps in his house. For this he has installed two solar panels on the rooftop and charges 24 volts batteries. He practices multi-crop farming and has 15acres of well irrigated farm with lust greenery. His farm consists of a variety of plans of both horticultural and medicinal importance and he claims that for the past 14 years he hasn’t used any chemical fertilizers in his farm. He uses the waste slurry as manure for the plants in his farm. An advocate of rainwater harvesting, he effectively uses the run-off water to charge his own bore wells.
Future plans and dreams…
Raghava’s aim is to make his milking machine available to dairy farmers at a cheaper rate. But he is quite sure that he does not want to sit back and enjoy the success of his “Milk Master”, but would prefer to dedicate his time to developing the following innovations which are currently in a conceptual form- easy methods of bee-keeping, a gas water heater and an automatic water dispenser for a cattle shed.