Design Intervention in Farm Equipment: Using a Studio Research Approach to Design a Sustainable, Human-Powered Solution for Small and Marginal Indian Farmers

Sanket Pai, Sugandh Malhotra, Selby Coxon, Robbie Napper

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


Small and marginal farmers play an essential role in the Indian agrarian economy. However, climate change, inflation, inadequate supply, volatile market, deterioration of land and water resources, rising input costs and post-harvest losses
along with lack of appropriate technology have led to an agrarian crisis in recent years. Small and marginal farmers are unable to use modern solutions due to issues like rising labour costs, lack of capital and unavailability of appropriate technology. Also, as the men migrate from villages to cities, Indian agriculture is becoming increasingly feminized. Hence, there is an urgent need for developing sustainable, appropriate and affordable farm tools which are gender-friendly, effective and efficient. A designer needs to understand various parameters for designing and evaluation of solutions to design and develop appropriate, affordable and context-specific interventions. These parameters range from technical to social, and the process for developing the parameters is described in this paper. Initially, data from various sources were collected and represented visually in mind maps with overlays to understand different layers of activities, existing solutions and needs. These overlays, along with a design futures framework, were used as a reference point to generate parameters which would inform and drive various directions for ideation and evaluation during the design process. The authors have used the user needs pyramid resulting out of the identified parameters to generate a design specification for farm implements. The factors used to generate the specification consider not just the technical aspects but also the socioeconomic and cultural aspects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign for Tomorrow—Volume 3
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of ICoRD 2021
EditorsAmaresh Chakrabarti, Ravi Poovaiah, Prasad Bokil, Vivek Kant
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9789811600845
ISBN (Print)9789811600838
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventInternational Conference on Research into Design (ICoRD 2021) -
Duration: 7 Jan 202110 Jan 2021
Conference number: 8th


ConferenceInternational Conference on Research into Design (ICoRD 2021)
Abbreviated titleICoRD 2021
Internet address

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