Since the 1980s, farmers in the country have been applying Guti urea to their crops for increased yield and low production cost. They have been successful in this endeavour, but for that they have to bear high labor cost and suffer agonising back pain, as farmers need to bend down, at times for hours, to apply Guti urea.
But all that seems to be over now, after a Bangladeshi scientist has developed a fertiliser applicator that will reduce both the labour cost and farmers’ woes in applying Guti urea (granular urea).
Easy to use and a time saver, the injector-type tool has already earned reputation in the global market.
“This device can apply some 60 Guti urea briquettes at a time, allowing a farmer to place briquettes on a 10-decimal paddy field in an hour,” said Dr Abdul Wahab, innovator of the 1.5kg plastic device.
“It is light and easy to handle. I used the applicator in Aman field this year,” Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a farmer at Avaynagar in Jessore, told this correspondent by phone.
It is also cheap, Tk 450 a piece.
Zulfikar said a labourer used to need two to three hours to manually apply Guti urea on a 10-decimal paddy field, but with the applicator the same job is now done in an hour. One does not need to bend down, an act that often causes back pain.
Its innovator Wahab is an agriculture engineer working for the International Fertilizer Development Centre’s (IFDC) Dhaka office in lien from BARI. He developed the tool at the Rangpur Foundry Ltd’s (RFL) factory in Ghorashal late last year.
Ishrat Jahan, resident representative of the US-based organisation IFDC’s Dhaka office, said unlike broadcast fertiliser, Guti urea is applied 7-10 inches deep in the soil. It ensures 70 percent of nitrogen, which is more than double that of regular urea.
Guti urea was also invented by Bangladeshi scientists, and it cuts urea requirement by 40 percent, but increases 15 percent paddy yield, she added.
“But as the labour cost was high and farmers have to bend down to manually place the Guti briquettes, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury had been persistently asking us to develop an applicator to ease farmers’ sufferings,” Jahan said.
The IFDC, with funding from USAID, then took research initiatives and gave grants to Bangladesh University of Engineering of Technology (Buet) and Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU). The government also asked Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) and Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) to develop the applicator.
BARI and BRRI developed push-type applicators, while BAU developed an injector-type one. Those, however, were not handy enough for the farmers.
The IFDC then hired Abdul Wahab, who along with some other RFL engineers made the plastic applicator in four months, Jahan said, adding: “Then we went for trial in the field and found it to be working fine.”
Early this year, an African delegation on a visit to Bangladesh was very excited to see the device and took along 10 applicators, which were on display at an exhibition in Senegal in late June.
“US President Barack Obama visited the exhibition and appreciated the tool,” said Jahan.
Lokman Hakim, operations manager of RFL Plastic Ltd, said the firm was selling about 2,000 applicators a month locally. He expects sales to go up to 10,000 by the middle of next year.
“Now, we are selling the applicator at Tk 450 with no profit,” he said, adding that the firm has already exported 100 pieces to Kenya, 20 pieces to South Africa and 10 pieces to Nigeria and India each.
“We hope for a large local and global market of the applicator in the near future,” Hakim said, expecting further improvement of the applicator.