In a place where innovation often goes unnoticed, a 50-year-old man is silently transforming the areca nut industry with his invention – the Areca Nut Peeler. Imnayongdang Kichu, a self-taught inventor, has created a game-changing machine that not only eases the process of peeling areca nuts but also holds potential for the food processing sector.
Kichu’s journey into innovation began when he ran a small pan shop. As the demand for areca nuts (Tamul) grew, so did the need for peeled nuts. To meet this demand, he paid others to peel the nuts for him. However, the labor costs were eating into his profits, and that’s when the spark of innovation struck.
In 2019, Kichu handcrafted his first prototype using a simple wooden log. The result was astounding – a machine that efficiently peeled areca nuts. This simple yet ingenious invention not only saved time but also reduced labor expenses significantly.
After the successful experiment with his wooden prototype, Kichu realized the potential of his invention and decided to mass-produce it. Fast forward to today, he has sold an impressive 317 units of his Areca Nut Peeler. His innovative product has found its way not only across Nagaland but also to distant corners of the country, including Meghalaya and New Delhi.
Kichu’s commitment to innovation doesn’t stop there. He is currently working on a version of his invention that would operate without electricity.
Kichu’s invention has piqued the interest of not only individuals but also companies from regions like Gujarat and the North-East. His contribution to the industry has earned him accolades, including recognition from the state’s science and technology department in Kohima.
Recently, Kichu received another feather in his cap. Just yesterday, on13 September, he received news that he was selected as an incubatee at the ATAL Incubation Centre (AIC) SELCO Foundation in Guwahati. The AIC-SELCO Foundation supports sustainable energy innovators in North-East India, aligning their efforts with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Kichu’s application was accepted under the Technology Enterprise program, focusing on improving the livelihoods of underserved populations through technology. This new opportunity comes with an initial 6-month agreement, which could extend to a 15-year partnership if all conditions are met. An induction program is slated for later part of September 2023.
Kichu’s Areca Nut Peeler is priced at Rs 8000 per unit, making it an affordable investment for those in the industry. His product reaches customers all over India through nationwide shipping. He also operates a shop in Yongpang Market in Arkong Ward, where he manufactures his invention and offers areca nut peeling services at a cost of Rs. 25 for 80 pieces of nuts.