BARGARH: Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram praised Lipsa Pradhan, who invented the mahua flower collection machine.
The Class X student from a non-descript village Kamgaon of Bargarh district has devised a gadget which can go a long way in alleviating the back-breaking pain of the poverty-stricken mahua flower collectors in tribal pockets of the country.
After taking a look at the machine, Oram said he was curious to learn more about the machine as his ministry deals with minor forest produce.
Lipsa was presented the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam IGNITE Award-2015 instituted by National Innovation Foundation (NIF) by President Pranab Mukherjee at a function at IIM, Ahmedabad for her innovation recently.
Although there were more than 28,000 entries from across the country, only 31 students made the cut.
Oram said he would look at options to develop the machine commercially.
Mahua tree is considered sacred in tribal India while its flowers are a lifeline for the indigenous population. Its collection, though, involves a painful process because of the perishable nature of the flowers which appear in the night, fall to the ground by the dawn and must be collected within the first couple of hours.
The gadget innovated by Lipsa has nail fitted on a cylinder with barriers to dislodge the mahua flowers stuck in the nails onto a plate fixed at the front. All a collector needs to do is roll the equipment which has a wheel at the back and a handle to manoeuvre it.
As a child, Lipsa used to accompany her mother, Arati Pradhan, to collect mahua flowers during vacation, and she was moved by the punishing work. It remained stuck in mind and kept agitating as she grew up. Since then, Lipsa had been thinking of a simple device which would enable a person to collect mahua flowers without bending down.