Mr. P.K. Ravi, a mechanic by profession, has developed a mechanical pepper thresher which is popular among pepper growers in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Priced at Rs. 30,000, the machine has become an instant hit, mainly because of its affordable price and efficiency.Mr. Ravi approached several financial institutes for credit. As expected, the response was not encouraging. “I tried to mortgage my 0.4 ha land for raising money. But even that did not materialize. I approached the Spices Board of India and requested them to visit my workshop. The officials visited my place and certified the superiority of the machine and sanctioned a subsidy of Rs. 7,000 for my machine."
“I then decided to start large-scale production and borrowed money from private moneylenders at high interest.
Later, scientists from the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU), on hearing about my machine, requested me to demonstrate it in the University campus. After seeing its functions, they recommended my work to the Research station of KAU,” he explained.
Meanwhile Mr. Ravi also filed a patent for his invention. The Scientists of Peermadu Development Society (PDS), an NGO based at Idukki, documented the thresher in detail and recommended it to the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) for an award.
Mr. Ravi was finally conferred a national award in 2007. “NIF has also sanctioned a loan from its micro venture innovation fund for scaling up his invention. Compared to conventional threshers, Ravi’s invention has a number of advantages,
“The machine can be operated both automatically and manually. Two models are available. A big model with a capacity of 100 Kg can thresh 600 Kg of pepper in an hour and another small model with a capacity of 50 Kg can thresh 300 kg in an hour.
Manually, a labourer can separate only 150 kg of berries from the spikes in a day. The machines can be operated with a half HP and one HP motor. For an hour, it consumes about 6.5 units of electricity. The machine has facilities to grade the berries and also for making white pepper.
“More than 90 per cent of berries can be separated from the spikes in one run and no damage occurs to the skin of the pepper, whereas in a conventional machine 20 per cent of the skin is destroyed.
Peermadu Development Society (NGO) has already taken efforts to popularise the technology through its women self help groups.