India’s tractor market has historically been dominated by mid-sized tractors with an engine capacity of 30 to 40 horse power (HP). This range suited medium and large farmers who needed tractors and other farm machines to save labour and especially time which is critical for the success of intensive agriculture. But now the tractor market is diversifying.
The demand for bigger (over 50 HP) and smaller (below 20 HP) tractors is rising rapidly.
Easier credit availability, the labour crunch and the need for cost reduction and efficiency enhancement in farm production are among the key factors supporting demand. Even small landholders cultivating less than two-hectare farms, which constitute roughly 80 per cent of all the farmers, want to either own or hire a tractor for fieldwork and other jobs.
The Indian tractor industry is, predictably, responding to the changing demand pattern. Some of the major tractor manufacturers have either already begun to produce machines of lower and higher HP or are moving in that direction.
One of the country’s leading tractor manufacturers, Mahindra & Mahindra, can be an interesting case in point. It has not only come out with one of the smallest tractors in the market with just 15 HP (named Yuvraj 215) but has also introduced a swanky large tractor with 85 HP (christened Arjun International). Both these models have been received well in the market. Yuvraj 215 is, indeed, one of the first tractors of this range manufactured in the organised sector.
The mini-tractors of similar and even lower HP range are, of course, available but these are fabricated in the unorganised sector. Farmers find the 15-HP tractor easy to maintain and operate in their tiny farms because of its small size, better manoeuvrability and fuel efficiency. Its light weight, moreover, does not cause soil compaction that can adversely affect crop yield. It is, therefore, deemed suitable for not only regular farm operations such as land preparation, seed sowing, weed management and post-plantation inter-culture but also for other jobs like threshing, water pumping and power generation.
It can comfortably haul a load of around 1.5 tonne, though many farmers carry even heavier cargoes on it. On roads, this tractor can attain a speed of 25 km an hour consuming one litre of diesel per 18 km.
During fieldwork, it consumes one litre of fuel per hour. It costs around Rs 2.35 lakh with minor variations in different states depending on local levies. Many farmers in Karnataka have found the Yuvraj 215 ideally suited for transportation of crop produce and farm inputs in undulated terrains where bullock carts fail to work.
This tractor is gaining popularity in states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (UP) for growing crops like cotton, sugarcane, soyabean, gram, orchards and vineyards.
Interestingly, the small Yuvraj tractor has proved handy as a replacement for “Jugaad” as a common transport vehicle in the rural areas of UP and some other states. Jugaad is a crude contraption with an open engine, assembled locally with parts sourced from neighbourhood manufacturers. The UP High Court recently banned the use of Jugaad, declaring it an unsafe mode of transport. Many Jugaad operators are consequently switching over to the Yuvraj which is a dependable branded vehicle from the organised sector.