India faces a challenge for mechanization of farming due to the fact that the percentage of farmers with land sizes of less than 2 hectares have tripled, and those with 2-10 hectares have increased more than 70 percent, in the past forty years. These small and marginal farms are operated by 92 million farmers, compared to only a million farmers in India who have large holdings. With India’s smallest farm numbers ever-growing, the economics of mechanization are difficult. Forty-four percent of the total operated area in India is on farms less than 2 hectares. Fifty percent of its farms are still ploughed by animals.
The chief marketer for India’s equipment maker, Mahindra & Mahindra, has written an article for The Hindu Business Line which is chock-full of interesting information and gives us pause for what we take for granted here in the U.S.
Sanjeev Goyle describes India’s rural transition due to the adoption of tractors on farms. He tells us that India accounts for one-third of global tractor production and that more than half of its domestic tractor sales are for tractors having 50HP or less.
He lists reasons why tractors can increase the productivity of farms, and are better than animal labor: two bullocks take about five days to plough one hectare, a tractor can do it in five hours; modern machinery helps keep the younger generation on the farm; and, the tractors can also be used for purposes other than in the field, for water pumps, as alternators, and for hauling.
Mahindra is responding to its nations’ smallest farmer needs by making a 15HP, fuel-efficient, lower cost tractor which it hopes is as affordable as owning a pair of bullocks. Called Mahindra Yuvraj 215, it costs about Rs 2.5 lakh, and farmers are encouraged to rent it out to help pay for it. This tractor should help meet the needs of small land holder farmers with vineyards, apple and other orchards, hillside farms, vegetable farms for working fields and transporting vegetables to market, and even for garbage collecting in narrow city lanes.
Goyle goes on to say that India’s government is helping to subsidize the mechanization of rural India and is offering the opportunity to “hire” tractors through Samriddhi centers which help to educate the farmers about the latest technologies.
Mahindra is also trying to expand its tractor sales here in the U.S. and other developing nations to take advantage of better growth opportunities. In a recent earnings report the company states that they are dealing with weak macroeconomic conditions which have affected sales.