While India’s tractor industry has contracted between August 2021 and March 2022, the small-farm mechanisation industry has continued to witness a double-digit growth indicating hyper action in small-scale farming and changing dynamics in the country’s agriculture sector, said Antony Cherukara, CEO of VST Tillers Tractors Ltd.
“The tractor industry has de-grown from last August to February and March this year, but the small farm machinery sector has been growing rapidly in 30% to 40% range CAGR in the last two years,’‘ he said.
Some 8,35,000 tractors were sold in the country by March 2022 which was 7 to 8% lower than last year’s sales. Small farm machinery includes power tillers and power weeders (8 hp to 16 hp), handheld machines such as brush cutters, hedge trimmers, and chain saws. The power tiller sector alone has been growing at 20% CAGR.
“It is a very interesting trend because what it reflects is the changing dynamics in farming. Small farmland holdings have started mechanising and the small farmers have realised that the tractors are not something profitable and they are shifting towards small farm machinery,’‘ observed Mr. Cherukara.
According to him, the country’s requirement for small farm machines has been on the rise in the last few years as the size of landholding is getting divided, farms are increasingly becoming smaller and also many people are venturing into small-scale farming.
`The landholding is getting divided because of various reasons and therefore contract farming is not scaling up much. More importantly, many urban people including professionals have gone back to villages and getting actively engaged in farming-related activities,’‘ he added.
All these small and marginal farmers, who were in small farming already and or got into it after the pandemic, were looking for mechanisation in their farms that are less than 5 acres in size. They can’t afford a 40 hp plus tractor that costs anywhere upwards of ₹5 to ₹6 lakh, according to him.
VST Tillers Tractors has a strategic alliance with a French company called Pubert and sells small farm machinery through more than 500 dealers.