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Mini tractor makers raise horse power to tap northern, southern markets

Vimukt Dave  |  Ahmedabad December 6, 2016 Last Updated at 18:28 IST

With rising demand, mini tractor players like Mahindra, Escorts, and Captain are looking to tap the market with higher horse power (HP) mini tractors, especially in northern and southern parts. For instance, Escorts which was so far producing 12 and 15 HP tractor in joint venture with Amul Group is now planning to introduce 18 hp, 20 hp and 22 hp in 2017.

Similarly, Mahindra is also working to roll out 25 HP tractors by next year. According to tractor companies, farmers are preferring mini tractors with higher horse power to ease farming activity and increase efficiency. According to the industry, mini tractor is mostly used by raw crops growers like cotton, groundnut, and soyabean. However, now larger crop farmers like in sugarcane and pulses are also buying mini tractor.

"Market of mini tractor is growing in other parts of India. The usage of mini tractors has been evolving from just agriculture products to now as cargo vehicle to move building materials. Mini tractors have the advantage of being able to ply on narrow roads and hence can be used for quick transportation of goods as well. This is why the demand is growing," said Shenu Agarwal, chief sales and marketing officer at Escorts Limited.

Currently, Escorts manufactures mini tractors at its Rajkot plant in a joint venture with the city-based Amul Group. Of the total tractor manufacturing capacity of 90,000 per annum, Escorts is able to produce 5,000 mini tractors a year at Rajkot. However, to fund its expansion plans into mini tractors of higher horse power, the company has planned to spend about Rs 4-5 crore.

Mahindra and Mahindra too, which makes the Yuvraj brand of mini tractors at Rajkot-based PM Diesel's facility, is also planning to develop higher HP model, according to sources. However, a company spokesperson declined to comment.

Tractor market in India is about 500,000 units a year, of which the mini tractor segment forms about four per cent share. The tractor industry expects about 600,000 units of sales by March 2017 on the back of good monsoon this year. For mini tractor segment, the industry is expecting to do around 30,000 units in the current financial year.

So far mini tractor is popular in western part of India, mainly in Gujarat and Maharashtra. But now the market is growing in other states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh (MP), Bihar, Uttar Pradesh (UP), Andhra Pradesh (AP), Tamil Nadu (TN), and Karnataka.

"Compared to other parts of India, farm land is quite small in Gujarat and Maharashtra. As a result, mini tractor concept had developed in Gujarat and was well accepted. The relatively lower price of a mini tractor is also one of the reasons for attracting farmers from other states. Farmers can do multiple activities by spending less and reduced manual labour," said Rajesh Patel, managing director of Captain Tractor Private Limited.

Captain Tractor currently has a production capacity of 200 tractors per month and is planning to increase capacity next year based on demand. It is one of the early entrants in the mini-tractors space. The company started research and development (R&D) in 1994 and came up with the first successful mini tractor of 9.5 horsepower engine in 1998. Currently, it is producing mini tractors of up to 25 hp.

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