#FirstStoryPositive: Karnataka Farmer’s Bike Makes Climbing Areca Nut Trees Easy; Helps 700 others

Ganapathi Bhat completed his graduation in agriscience in the Komale village of Mangalore, Karnataka and in 1991 started practising Areca nut and coconut farming on his 14-acre ancestral land.

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Nicknamed the ‘Areca Bike’, was innovated by Ganapathi Bhat and his friend Sharvin Maben from Komale village in Karnataka. The bike cuts labour costs by 20 per cent and can climb 90 trees with just one-litre petrol.

Ganapathi Bhat completed his graduation in agriscience in the Komale village of Mangalore, Karnataka and in 1991 started practising Areca nut and coconut farming on his 14-acre ancestral land.

Over some time, his farming income reduced and his produce was affected. He recollects that 2017 was his worst year as his income had halved. Being a science graduate, his analysis of the situation showed that the untimely maintenance of trees and the unreliable labour workforce affected the produce.

“The labourers were irregular and it affected the timely spraying of pesticides or pruning of trees, which is needed every few days,” he says, adding that the labour costs increased multifold. “Each labourer charges Rs. 2,000 a day, and I needed at least four days, which would cost me Rs. 8,000. I needed these labourers for at least four days to cover the entire plantation,” says the 51-year-old.


This dilemma made him come up with an innovative ‘Areca Bike’, that can climb 80 plus meters tall Areca nut trees in a short span of 30 seconds. This compact and easy to use machinery reduced the labour cost and cutting expenses by almost 20 per cent. With a little philanthropical spirit, he sold 700 bikes at production cost without making any profits from it.

Having no technical or engineering background was a hurdle for Ganapathi but with perseverance, he managed to come up with a foolproof design.

“As technology has advanced in all fields, I was sure to find a machine that could do the cutting, spraying of pesticides and taking care of the Areca nut trees too. I approached my friend Sharvin Maben, who owns an automobile workshop, to discuss the concept,” he says, adding that he learned about machine operations while working as a technician with him occasionally.

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The duo worked on the bike for two years and came up with a unique machine in 2020 that can carry the weight of a person up to 80 kilos. The bike consisted of multiple features and advantages like a two-stroke engine with hydraulic brakes, double shock absorbers, one year guarantee and costs Rs. 59,000.

“A person takes about five to eight minutes to climb the areca nut tree but the machine does it in seconds, without tiring the climber. Moreover, it is safe and can move around the tree. This reduces the effort and time drastically,” Ganapathi says.

In no time the bike was the talk of the town. Raja, a labourer got to try the bike and said, “There are always safety concerns while climbing trees manually. It becomes much more difficult during the monsoon when the surfaces are slippery. The added advantage of the bike is that one can complete the work on one farm in a day. It allows me to take on work at multiple farms in a week and earn more rather than simply earning from a single farm.”

With no investor insight for the research and development of the prototype, Ganapathi poured in his savings. “I never had a commercial interest in it. The machine was derived aiming to make a labourer’s job easier. So, I do not earn any profits from its sales,” he says.

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With the sale of his produce of Areca nuts, Ganapathi earns Rs 30 lakh out of which Rs 20 lakh are his profits which are derived from 20 per cent saved from the reduced labour costs.



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