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What is SPIN (Scythe Project in Nepal)?

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Published on Dec 1, 2013

What is SPIN?

On a shoestring budget, two volunteers brought dozens of scythes to the mountains of Nepal, where, like in much of Asia, the harvesting of grains and fodder is traditionally done with sickles. 

In recent years, many young people from the countryside have been leaving their family farms in the hope of escaping this drudgery, and finding a brighter future in the city.

Every day, over 1,300 Nepalese, mostly men, are leaving the country for employment in neighbouring countries. As a result, fewer people are working Nepal's land, which undermines the self-sufficiency and food security of the region.

A means of speeding up the harvest would be of clear benefit to Nepali farmers.

Introducing the scythe to places where the sickle is traditionally used will result in several benefits.

Scythes ease the burden of harvesting with a sickle, which involves bending or squatting for hours.  At the same time, a scythe increases productivity without introducing petroleum-powered machinery.

During the initial scythe demonstrations in Nepal, local farmers and agriculture officers were impressed by what they thought was a new invention, as they had never seen it before. They couldn't believe it when they were told that the scythe has been around for centuries.

Most of the development agencies are promoting motorized alternatives, to replace sickles. However, the scythe's simplicity and manual operation makes it the truly appropriate technology upgrade from sickles in rural Nepal and other less developed countries. The introduction of petroleum-powered machines increases dependency on imported fossil fuels and spare parts.

Initial training in use and maintenance of the scythe is required, as the level of skill will directly affect the result. Maintenance is part of the basic skill set, and is performed by the user. If major repairs are necessary, they can be done by a local blacksmith.

While the scythe is an excellent example of appropriate technology, to implement it remains a challenge. It takes an innovative, resourceful, and committed effort to adapt the tool to local needs and at the same time make the best of local resources.

Scythe Works is actively seeking an organization with established contacts in Nepal that would recognize the potential of the scythe project and would help us continue this work.

A few key differences between scythes and the motorized harvesters sometimes called "Chinese rice and wheat reapers":
 
reaper:  
- fossil fuel dependent, fuel must be imported
- higher cost, shorter life
- weight 8 - 15 kg
- noisy, with exhaust fumes
 - all equipment and spare parts must be imported

scythe:
- fossil fuel independent
- low cost, long life
- weight 2 - 3 kg
 - no noise, no exhaust
- all needed equipment can be fabricated locally

For more information please go to http://www.scytheworks.com/SPIN.html

Thank you for your support,
Alexander Vido

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