Rickshaw-puller who turned farmer and inventor

A matriculate, he used to pull a rickshaw on the streets of Delhi over two decades ago. Dharamveer Kamboj's way life changed after an accident that wrecked his rickshaw and injured his legs, forcing him back to his village, Damla in Haryana. It proved the turning point in his life.

In Damla, he began cultivating on his ancestral property of two acres and found it was his true calling. He has since innovated in a variety of ways, at one point creating a record for tomato yield. He has always had a fascination for machines, which he put to good use in agriculture. Today, he is an innovator running a successful business enterprise from his farm.

In 2010, he received the Indian Council for Agricultural Research's Farmer Scientist Award. In 2009, he won the National Innovation Foundation award.

At a seminar at the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) recently, Dharamveer shared his story with The Indian Express, starting when he began farming on his two acres.

"I was just another farmer cultivating wheat and paddy. Part of the land was for vegetables and herbs," he said. "I visited Rajasthan and saw farmers making aloe vera, amla extracts and some other products too. I returned and tried extracting juice using a mixer-grinder. I then worked on inventing a multi-purpose machine."

It took a year for Dharmveer to come up with the machine he was looking for, one capable of pulverising herbs and extracting oil and essence from it. The multiple purposes the device is designed for include functioning as a large pressure cooker, a homogeniser and a steriliser. Using it, he came up with a method to separate extracts from aloe vera, amla, and other herbs and process it for various products.

"I have been using it for many years to produce healthcare and cosmetic products," he said. "The device costs about Rs 1.5 lakh, which includes the cost of training. So far I have sold 85 machines. Orders have now come from Kenya. The horticulture mission gives a 25 subsidy on the machine. I make 35 products that sell rapidly. Now my food processing unit has an annual turnover of around Rs 35-40 lakh."

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