A septuagenarian Muslim innovator’s magic touch is transforming the lives of thousands of distressed farmers in India’s southern province of Karnataka and outside.
Even as 70% of people depend upon agriculture directly or indirectly in India, the spate of suicides by farmers due to indebtedness and crop losses has been testing the nerves of successive governments.
Over 17,000 farmers have committed suicide over the past three years due to indebtedness and crop losses, according to figures presented in parliament earlier this year.
Farm scientist and innovator Abdul Khader Nadakattin, 73, has been designing unique ways and equipment to help farmers to increase their productivity through skill development and counselling.
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Speaking to Anadolu Agency coinciding with the World Creativity and Innovation Day, which is being observed on Thursday, Nadakattin said his last wish is to stop farmers from committing suicides due to distress. He is setting up a charitable trust to help farmers financially as well as to provide them counselling.
“Everyone helps the farmer's family when he commits suicide, but, no one makes effort to save his life, before the suicide. Through the trust, our focus would remain to prevent people from committing suicide and farmers would be provided help financially,” he said.
Recognizing his contribution, the Indian government conferred the fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri to Nadakattin earlier this year for helping the farmers.
"All his innovations demonstrate principles of sustainability, cost-effectiveness, eco-friendliness, and most importantly social acceptance. His in-depth knowledge of agro-climatic conditions and soil characteristics has made him an inspiration to other farmers in the country,” said the government statement, while announcing the award.
Experts say that the machines devised by Nadakattin have been helping farmers to save millions of rupees.
To continue innovations, Nadakattin had to sell his property worth millions and at a time had got so distressed that he thought of committing suicide.
"There was a time and owned property worth millions. But, then for the research and work, I sold everything. When the situation was very difficult for me, at one point in time, I even thought of committing suicide. So, I always want farmers should get help as much I can through my research and innovation,” he said.
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The septuagenarian innovator said that he urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the award ceremony to support people who are in the research activity.
Tracing his journey of innovation, Nadakattin said he had first invented a water alarm when he was still studying in school. He soon moved to work on farms and focused on working for farmers.
"I used to be in the fields, so I would think about the problems a farmer is facing. Then my work in the agriculture field started,” he said.
According to Nadakattin, he is currently in the final stages of rolling out pathbreaking innovations.
"My first innovation was a sowing machine which become popular among the farmers across the country. I am working on two more innovations,” he said.
Nadakattin’s creative streak of mind and a strong desire to help farmers, even in his old age has brought cheers and happiness to many farmers across the country.