The magic hands of a Muslim innovator help struggling Indian farmers

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NEW DELHI:

The magic touch of a 70-year-old Muslim innovator is transforming the lives of thousands of struggling farmers in southern India’s Karnataka province and beyond.

Even though 70% of the population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture in India, the wave of farmer suicides due to debt and crop failure has tested the nerves of successive governments.

More than 17,000 farmers have taken their own lives in the past three years due to debt and crop failure, according to figures presented to parliament earlier this year.

Agricultural scientist and innovator Abdul Khader Nadakattin, 73, has devised unique ways and equipment to help farmers increase their productivity through skills development and advice.

Read more: Indian government to spend $40 billion on agriculture sector

Talk to Anadolu Agency Coinciding with World Creativity and Innovation Day, which is celebrated on Thursday, Nadakattin said his dying wish was to prevent farmers from committing suicide due to distress. He sets up a charitable trust to help farmers financially and provide advice.

“Everyone helps the farmer’s family when he commits suicide, but no one makes an effort to save his life before the suicide. Through the trust, our focus would remain on preventing people from committing suicide and farmers would receive financial assistance,” he said.

Recognizing his contribution, the Indian government bestowed the fourth highest civilian Padma Shri honor on Nadakattin earlier this year for helping farmers.

“All his innovations demonstrate principles of sustainability, profitability, respect for the environment and, above all, social acceptance. His in-depth knowledge of agro-climatic conditions and soil characteristics has made him a source of inspiration for other farmers across the country,” the government statement said, while announcing the award.

Experts say the machines designed by Nadakattin have helped farmers save millions of rupees.

Dedicated innovator

To continue the innovations, Nadakattin had to sell his property worth millions and at one point he was so distressed that he thought of committing suicide.

“There was a time and I had property worth millions. But, then, for research and work, I sold everything. When the situation was very difficult for me, at one time I even thought of kill myself. So I always want farmers to get help as much as possible through my research and innovation,” he said.

Also read: Indian farmers return home after year-long protest

The septuagenarian innovator said he urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the awards ceremony to support people who are in the research business.

Retracing his innovation journey, Nadakattin said he first invented a water alarm while still studying in school. He soon moved to work on farms and focused on working for farmers.

“Before, I was in the fields, so I was thinking about the problems a farmer faces. Then my work in agriculture started,” he said.

According to Nadakattin, he is currently in the final stages of rolling out breakthrough innovations.

“My first innovation was a seed drill which has become popular among farmers across the country. I am working on two other innovations,” he said.

Nadakattin’s creative spirit and strong desire to help farmers even in his old age has brought cheers and happiness to many farmers across the country.

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