Agriculture

Equipping Indian Agriculture

To feed the teeming millions, Indian agriculture has to undergo a notch ahead in adopting machines. Advanced equipment and co-operative farming seem the way out as MNCs exploring the market with elan, writes Mohd Mustaquim
Equipping Indian Agriculture

With 142 million hectares of agricultural land, India is estimated to produce 267 mn tonnes of food grains in 2013-14, while China with 128 million hectares of agricultural land produced 500 million tonnes. The Indian agriculture is largely dependent on manual harvesting, but seen as great opportunity, the international agricultural implements manufacturing companies are gearing up to enter the huge market – Indian farmland.

THE SILVER LINING
To feed the growing population of the country, the country needs to procure more food grains in the coming future. Even after 68 years of independence, we still import certain food grains like pulses and oilseeds. However, over the decades with the usage of tractors, the soil quality of the land has been degraded affecting fertility to the larger extent in some parts of the country. In this context, bigger machines with deeper ploughing prowess might be the answer.

The chairman of one of India’s largest agriculture consultancy firms, Global Agro System, Gokul Patnaik said, “Once the fertility of the land gets degraded we need big machines to plough it deeply. Not every year, but after few years this hardpan is needed to be broken and the big machineries can be a good solution for it.”

Grimme, a Germen agri implements company, which makes 80 variants of heavy machineries for potato, sugar beet and vegetable farming, its implements cost to 5000 to 500,000 of Euros. The company operates in more than 100 countries with their own service and sale subsidiaries. The company is looking forward to India as a potential market for their products.

A senior official of the company, Piet de Jong said, “Because of small land holdings, 90 per cent of the Indian farmers are not interested in our products. But the remaining 10 per cent are showing interest. The Indian market is very new for us. We hope to sell some machines in the coming months.”

“There are several areas in India which have bigger farmers, they have 200 to 300 acres of land holdings, we have machines for them and getting good response”, Jong further added.

Another Germany based company RKW SE, is a well-known firm in European plastic industry. The company makes nets, bales, silage bales and tubes, early harvest films and crop management products. The firm is known for its standard quality and innovative products. The company sees Indian agriculture as a growing and potential market for their products.

Stefan Kwiatkista, sales manager of RKW SE said, “We manufacture plastic materials for grass silage, bags for grain storage, silage storage, netting for round bales, silage bales and all kinds of plastics for warehousing. The farmers are very much interested in our products because they have never seen these kinds of solutions.”

“We see the market for our products, that is growing, but we are targeting the Punjab dairy farmers. It is very important for us to help grow high quality food and silage” Kwiatkista added further.

An Italian firm, ZAGO, which manufactures many variants of mixer wagons and feeder machines for animal husbandry and dairy farming, sees India as a huge market for their products.

Export manager of the firm, Maurizio Zaratin said, “Mixer wagons and feeder machines are the well accepted concept in Europe for dairy farming. Now we are starting this concept in India. These machines help dairy farmers in improving their milk production and wellness of their cows.”

Keeping an eye on small land holding, the characteristic of Indian agriculture, the company has started customising their products as per the needs of small farmers.

CHALLENGES
In a developing country like India where 65 per cent of population depends on agriculture and the agricultural land is divided into small pieces, operating of big machines is not an easy task.

The economic condition of small and marginal farmers is not as better. “The capital cost and affordability is a big challenge before farmers in India along with credit availability. Because of the high cost, we cannot say, how many people will buy these products,” Patnaik futher added.

FUTURE COURSE
The usage of big machines in a small land holding pattern is possible through joint hiring by group of farmers; the group may comprise of few farmers, over a village or through co-operatives. A person, who can afford the machines, can bring it to the farmers on custom hiring. Otherwise, the governments can provide these machines on hiring through an agency.

“We do not have improvised agri–machines, these international companies will bring with them improved implements,” said Patnaik.

As awareness among the farmers is considerable, Patnaik stressed, “The farmers need to be aware of these implements and their robust performance on ground. Unless they see the results prima facie, they will not go for new advanced machines.” He went on to add that the Indian farmers would like see demonstrative programmes-based on the usability of heavy machines in the context of Indian agriculture.

Through usage of these machineries, farm productivity can be improved in the future. It will ease the challenge of feeding the growing population of the country. The co-operative method of farming and custom hiring of equipments can be good way out for mechanisation of farming.

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