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Category CHIN-XVII
 
Title Why should two civilizational neighbours rediscover similar solutions ?
 
Abstract As discussed in previous isues, there are many unique innovations by common people in China and India, but there are also several examples of same or similar solutions being rediscovered independently by communities in both the countries oblivious of each other. Prof Zhang Liyan and her team at Tianjin University of Finance and Economics have developed a large Honey Bee Network chapter in all the thirty provinces of China. Examples given here are drawn from a database her team has created at TUFE website accessible through Map also (http://cxcy.tjufe.edu.cn/index.asp?action=show&typeid=3).
 
Details Herb digging machine Hao Yanbo Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia Hao Yanbo is a farmer from Jinshan Town in Harqin Banner of Chifeng City. In July 2005, he designed a herb-digging machine to help his family and fellow farmers who faced hardships while collecting medicinal plants by hand. He obtained a patent for it in 2006. The hydraulic system of the machine is similar to the ones used in other agricultural machinery, and the depth of its tine-spikes can be adjusted. As the utility model is lightweight, flexible and efficient, its advantage is that it decreases the dependency on manual labour. It saves time and energy, and reduces labour costs. It is also easy to adjust the rotation angle for digging for different varieties of herbs and it ensures that the plants are not damaged. For generations, many farmers have been dependent on the use of different kinds of forks such as digging fork, hand trowel, spade, shovel etc. Available in numerous shapes, sizes and colours, they come in a set and are reasonably priced. Previously a farmer took a whole day to manually dig the soil covering only 1/10 Mu (0.0164 acre) of his field. But with the help of the new machine, Hao is able to cover more than one Mu of land in a day which enhances herb productivity by 20% per Mu. The net increase in the output value per acre is over 200 yuan. Chifeng City is one of five major herbal medicinal production bases in China, and its herb cultivation has been known for several decades. The area specializes in extracts of herbs made available in bottles, which are beneficial for the prevention of diseases in poultry and cattle. Hao recalls how his family planted over three mu of indigowoad (Radix isatidis) in 2003, but the harvesting of the roots could not be completed because of the lack of manpower. This is no longer a problem after the invention of this machine. Fertilizer spraying by handcart/trolley Liu Zhanmin Hengshui, Hebei Province Liu Zhanmin (b. 1960) is a resident of Hengshui in Hebei province. In 2008, he developed the first walking pesticide spraying trolley which operates without oil or electricity. He obtained a national patent for it in the following year. Traditionally, chemical fertilizer was sprayed by hand in the fields. The labour-intensive practice was uneven and inefficient. In some instances, pesticide poisoning occurred due to the farmer’s carelessness while spraying. Liu’s handcart is a wheelbarrow. Comprising a support and two chemical tanks which are fitted onto the cart, it includes six chemical sprayers fixed on the support and connected to the chemical tanks through a tube. When the wheels turns the pesticide is sprayed. This handcart saves labour and increases efficiency. The spray nozzles of the sprayers can be adjusted according to the height of the crops. For long-stalked crops like corn, the handcart is equipped with sprinklers on a boom, which can be raised so as to spray corn of varying heights. Multiple farm tool connector device Xia Jianghu Xianning˙Hubei Xia Jianghu, a farmer, has obtained a patent on a multi-use farm tool connector in 2005. He wanted to find a solution to having to carry a number of different farming tools such as hoe, spade and rake, each with a separate handle. They were cumbersome to carry and they increased the labour time. With regular use, the wooden handles begin to wear, loosening their grip, or even breaking, thus leading to wastage of wood. In China alone, one finds a range of colourful plastic garden tools comprising hoe and rake fixed together i.e. forming a T-shape and with a single handle. However, these devices are not equipped with a spade, so the farmer has to carry a spade with him all of the time for farming purposes. Xia’s model has a tool connector, which connects a wooden handle to the iron farm tool head such as a spade or a hoe. The connector consists of a jacket for the wooden handle, while another jacket is designed for the farm tool head. Both of them are welded together and have arrangement for fixing different tools. Efficient tea-leaf clippers Liu Changxu Yichang, Hubei Liu Changxu is a representative of the People’s Congress in the Wuyanquan county of Yidu City, Hubei Province. The province is home of the seventh century First Chinese tea specialist Lu Yu. The eastern counties are considered to be the oldest tea cultivation areas in the country. Hubei produces green and yellow teas on mountain slopes at an altitude of 1,000 metres above sea level. During a meeting to discuss the dissemination of tea cultivation technology in 1995, Liu learnt that many tea growers do not use or understand mechanization and continue to hand-pick tea leaves. The traditional method of hand-picking is time-consuming leading to low production output. He decided to design a set of clippers which could speedily clip tea leaves without the need to bend over. Liu, on the other hand, did not invent hedge clippers but designed an ‘efficient tea leaf clipper’ in 2002 and got a patent in 2007. Narrating his experience, he says one can pluck 150 kg of tea leaves which is five to six times higher than the traditional hand-picking method. It is a simple manual standing operation and differs a lot from other tea leaf pickers wherein one has to bend over while plucking leaves. For instance, the leaves plucked by Liu’s clippers fall into a big bag without getting scattered on the ground. It not only solves the problem of seasonal pickings but also ensures that the autumn plucking of tea leaves is completed on time.  Energy-saving pit for blanched garlic leaves Dong Cun Tangshan, Hebei Province Dong Cun is a farmer from Jingdun village in Tangshan city, Hebei Province. He developed an energy-saving pit to preserve garlic leaves in the traditional semi-underground pit. Instead of an earthen furnace, he uses gasoline boilers which save more energy. The village has a 20-year-old history of cultivating blanched garlic leaves and produces 10,000 tons a year. China is the largest producer of garlic in the world, 10.5 tons annually which is 77% of world output. The conventional method is to cultivate blanched garlic leaves in semi-underground pits dug in their backyards. They heat up the pits with an earthen furnace and use a chimney to maintain temperature and humidity. However, Dong says this method wastes a lot of energy. These peasants store or traditionally hang garlic in warm temperatures of over 18 degrees Celsius. However, for commercial use, it should be stored in a dry and low humid climate. Since the shelf life of these leaves is short, it is difficult to maintain their quality. For this, Dong decided to develop a new efficient and energy saving pit. With an investment of 70,000 yuan, Dong built a large semi-underground pit consisting of 16 small pits connected together and spread over an area of 3 mus (1Mu=0.164acre) of land. The steam generated by gasoline boilers circulates in the pits below. Not only was it easier to control the temperature and humidity but also better insulation was maintained. The sprout cycle was shortened from 20 days to 15 days. Thus the entire production cycle increased to 9 cycles per year from 6 cycles. The new pit could produce garlic leaves at an output rate equivalent to that of greenhouse cultivation. An average of 1 kg of garlic was able to produce 1 kg leaves, while only 0.8 kg leaves could be obtained from the traditional method. Also the pit prevented cultivated sprouts from rotting and so quality was maintained. The garlic leaves could be stored for a week, whereas two days was the norm in the traditional pit. The new pit is more energy-efficient, as only 20 kg of coal per day is required for 16 pits, which is one-tenth of what is required by the traditional pit and one-third required by a greenhouse. According to Dong, the 16 pits can store 10,000 kg of garlic. This benefits farmers as they can earn a net income of 10,000 yuan from each crop harvest. A farmer can recover the costs within a year and earn a hefty surplus. Cotton stalk harvester Yongsheng Zhang Dongying, Shandong province Yongsheng Zhang (b. 1966) a farmer from Gouquanzhuang village, Lijin County, Shandong Province keeps himself informed by reading a lot. While watching farmers toil hard, especially during the cotton harvest season, he was troubled by the drudgery involved on uprooting cotton stalks. This led him to invent a cotton stalk harvester that would reduce their backbreaking labour. His machine consists of drive wheels, support frame, gearbox, control switches, fans, and pipelines, receiving box, motor, seats and steering wheel. Its main advantage is that it combines the job of harvesting and crushing the cotton stalks. The process reduces farmers’ labour and enhances their economic benefits. The machine is capable of crushing cotton stalks on 4-5 mu (1 mu=0.0667 hectares) of land per hour. Prior to transporting them to the factories, the cotton stalks have to be crushed, or else the purchase price is reduced by several cents. The crushed stalks command a higher purchase price, which can increase the income of the farmers by 80-100 yuan per mu. “Our next step is to manufacture these machines on a larger scale and promote them in the market, so that local people can reap its benefits, earn money and prosper,” an elated Yongsheng claimed. However, the Hongshi HS model manufactured in Henan China Province is smaller in size than Yongsheng’s large machine. This model combines a multiple cotton stalk harvester with the cotton stalk being pulled directly from the soil. The HS machine powered by a tractor with 12 to 25 hp. It weighs 105 kg and is priced at $1,500 - $3,500 per set. Many harvesters consist of large, small and even mini-devices with prices ranging from $800 to $50,000. The premium quality Custom 950 C II Cotton Stalk Chopper is manufactured in India. With less maintenance requirements, it has a longer service life. Its features include cutting the stalks above the ground and slicing the whole plant into small sizes. Besides, it can cut the plant in a uniform size of 2-22 mm and can operate with a 55-65 hp tractor.
 
Volume No. Honey Bee 25(2) 18-19, 2014

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