Mawa Engineering Workshop: empowering agriculture through innovative machinery

An employee is working at Mawa Engineering Workshop in Jhenaidah District of Bangladesh
[Photo: Asmaul Husna]

In Jhenaidah city in Khulna Division, southwest Bangladesh, Mawa Engineering Workshop has emerged as a successful business venture in the realm of agrimachinery. A modest initiative, begun in 1950 to produce mustard seed grinding machines, has developed into a thriving enterprise with a noticeable influence on the region’s agriculture scenario.

Mawa Engineering’s journey towards machine assembly began with significance in 1996 when it expanded its operations to include the manufacture of rice threshers, rice dehusking machines and oil mills. Over the years its product line has diversified, and now boasts an impressive repertoire of 30 types of machinery, catering to small agricultural crop processing needs and including machines that grind seed to produce oil, threshers, maize shellers and fodder choppers, typically priced between US$ 455 and US$ 910 (BDT 50,000–BDT 100,000). The most sought-after items in Mawa’s inventory are the seed grinding machines and fodder choppers, which have gained widespread popularity among local farmers.

A defining moment in Mawa Engineering’s recent history occurred when it embarked on a collaborative journey with Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) in pursuit of manufacturing a mini power tiller. This venture was facilitated through a connection established by the USAID-funded Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia–Mechanization Extension Activity (CSISA–MEA) with which Mawa Engineering is engaged as an agriculture-based light engineering (ABLE) enterprise. Priced at a reasonable US$ 500 (BDT 55,000), this mini power tiller has found its way into the hands of local farmers, with 32 machines sold in just two years through seven dealers in Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban districts.

However, Mawa Engineering did not rest on its laurels. Equipped with training provided by CSISA–MEA, implemented by CIMMYT in partnership with iDE and Georgia Tech, the company improved the mini power tiller’s design to include a double drive chain and modified drive lever, simplifying its operation. Mawa is now exploring the development of a battery-driven tiller, a testament to its commitment to sustainability and innovation.

From around US$ 500 (BDT 55,000) each month in 2019, Mawa Engineering’s profits have soared to an impressive US$ 900 (BDT100,000) in 2023. This significant growth has not only benefitted the business but also the local community, with the company now employing 10 dedicated staff members, five of whom have engaged in light engineering training provided by CSISA–MEA. Not only has this developed employees’ skills – and thus their ability to contribute to Mawa Engineering’s success – it has also increased their participation in the local economy.

Mawa Engineering’s engagement as an agriculture-based light engineering small enterprise with CSISA–MEA has been instrumental in its success. The collaboration has provided training, market linkages, workshop and management guidance, as well as the technical advice needed to propel the company towards achieving the high standards it aspires to today.

The path to success has not been without its challenges. Mawa Engineering has faced obstacles accessing finance, acquiring quality raw materials, and retaining skilled labor. The departure of young, trained workers to work abroad poses a considerable challenge. To counter this trend, the company has committed to paying higher wages, a move made possible by increasing worker productivity. In future, it plans to install CNC machines, financed through bank loans.

Md. Mahfuzur Rahman, owner and manager of Mawa Engineering, says, “We believe that including agrimachinery in our product lines will help both farmers and machinery solution providers to have brighter futures. Both empowerment and inventiveness are important – and by integrating modern innovations in agriculture, we are sowing the seeds of progress that will yield numerous benefits for everyone involved. We at Mawa Engineering Workshop are committed to assisting our clients to be successful in the field in which they work.”

Strengthened with updated technical and business management skills, Mawa Engineering is ready to tackle new challenges, with its ambition extending to developing jute decorticators, onion planters and harvesters, and potato harvesters and graders. Its advertising efforts, including YouTube and online sales, have been fruitful, with 15 out of 17 machines now sold online, and its embracing of digital marketing methods include a transition to offering online payments and cash transfers.

Mawa Engineering’s journey transcends the mere acquisition of machinery manufacturing skills – it is a story of innovation, empowerment and resilience. Its collaboration with CSISA–MEA and BARI has enabled the company to extend its focus on agricultural mechanization, underpinned with enhanced workshop management, trained staff, and an increased awareness of health and safety at work. It has not only revolutionized the local agrimachinery market but also enhanced the livelihoods of its employees and the farming community it serves. Mawa Engineering stands as a testament to the transformative power of collaboration, and a relentless commitment to improving the lives of others through technology and ingenuity.

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Posted on Bangladesh-news, October 1, 2023

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