A retired veterinary professor, impressed by CLAAS’ forage harvester JAGUAR 850, worth Rs 2 crore, brings in the machine to India and helps Indian dairy sector in achieving higher milk production. MOHD MUSTAQUIM tells about the wonder
Earlier one could not imagine that an agricultural machinery costing Rs 2 crore could be sold in the Indian market. However, Dr. JS Bhatti, a retired professor of veterinary and animal husbandry from Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana in Punjab, made it possible by buying the first forage harvester, JAGUAR 850, worth Rs 2 crore.
This machine makes high nutrient silage from standing pre-mature maize crops for dairy cattle. Though the silage is being made by locally manufactured machines in some pockets of the country but it was not enough to meet the growing demand of the world’s largest milk producer, Indian dairy industry. Further, due to the inefficiency, these machines waste a big amount of the crop while making silage.
During his overseas academic visits, Dr. Bhatti encountered with JAGUAR 850 forage harvester, manufactured by German farm machinery company CLAAS. He thought if that machine could make silage in Europe, why can’t it feed high nutrient fodder to milk producing cattle in India? After coming back from his travel, Dr. Bhatti asked the Indian subsidiary of the manufacturer, CLAAS India to provide the same machine to him too.
It was a groundbreaking event for the company to introduce that high cost machine to the Indian market. Within one year, the company has imported and sold another machine in Hyderabad and has received two more orders, one each from Punjab and Maharashtra.
The response from the Indian market has encouraged the company to demarcate the regions where the machine can be sold. According to Ashish Bhardwaj, Sales Head, CLAAS India, “The regions which grow maize and have good number of commercial dairies are the potential markets for the machine. Considering this, we have demarcated Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat to sell the machine and make the dairy industry aware about its benefits.”
Through custom hiring, in one year Dr. Bhatti’s machine has made silage in 1,500 acres of standing maize crops, from Punjab to Andhra Pradesh. He charges Rs 7000 for making silage per acre. The one year’s success has encouraged him to go for another machine. For this, he is planning to place an order in the near future.
The forage harvester, JAGUAR 850 cuts the standing maize crop at the age of 85-90 days along with the cob. That time, the premature cobs reach the milking stage. Then, the machine crushes the crop along with the cobs. It is the exact period of silage making. Thereafter, the silage is kept in an underground airtight pit for around 45 days. As the crop is green and cobs are in the milking stage, the silage gets fermented in the period it is kept underground and gets ready to feed the cattle. The fermentation makes it easy to digest. If it is kept in airtight pit, it can be used after one year too in the lean season.
As the crop do not reach its full maturity, it saves the fodder from drying and maintains all the nutrients which increase productivity of a cattle by 1-3 litre.
“If a dairy has 1,000 cattle, it increases its productivity by 1,000-3,000 litre per day which further increases the income. This is the biggest USP of this machine,” claims Bhardwaj.
In normal situation, the maize crop is harvested after maturity. At this stage the crop becomes dry. For silage making, the crop is harvested when it is green, 15-20 days before maturity. Due to this, the nutrient gets preserved. In this way, the cattle get maximum nutrient which helps the cattle to be healthier and increases milk productivity.
“In case of a normal crop, 150-160 quintal of silage is made per acre. Farmers sell their standing crops to dairies at Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per acre, rates vary depending upon the crops. If a farmer sells his ready made silage to any dairy, he sells at Rs 150 to 160 per quintal. On daily basis, a cattle needs 20-25 kg silage,” says Dr. Bhatti. “We are providing full solution of silage making to the dairies and farmers, from harvesting to transportation,” he adds.
When a big investment is made, the calculation of Return-on-Investment becomes necessary. Thus, speaking after investing Rs 2 crore in the machine, Dr. Bhatti says, “It depends on the business model and linkage with the farmers and dairies. It is more than one year I bought the machine and I have a very good experience. There is big market for silage in Punjab. Most of the commercial dairies are feeding silage to their cattle for increasing milk productivity. Silage is the backbone for commercial dairies.”
Dr. Bhatti provides silage making solutions across maize producing regions from Punjab to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. “In Punjab we have around 35-40 customers of silage who are mostly the commercial dairies. Either the farmers get the silage making solutions for their own cattle or the dairies buy the standing crops from the farmers. If necessitated, we transport the machine to AP for providing services there,” he further adds.
CLAAS India claims to have already started focusing on tapping the market on serious note. “Though the pricing is very high, financing is easily available for the machine. We are getting very good response from the dairy sector. The buyer doesn’t need to be a dairy owner only. A person who wants to make cattle feed (silage) can buy the machine and provide silage making solutions to the dairies,” Bhardwaj says.
The quality fodder has a big market in India as the country is the largest producer of milk in the world. Thus, the machine has tremendous opportunities from the dairy sector. From area to area the business models could be different but using this forage harvester can push the growth of the dairy sector. The Indian agriculture has been going through a distress for few years due to poor monsoon, high input cost, selling farm produce below minimum support price and fall in crop price realization in the international markets. Thus, there is a need to promote high volume cash crops such as fruits and vegetables, dairy, fisheries and poultry which fetch immediate cash to the hands of farmers. By providing high nutrient fodder to the dairy sector, such forage harvesters can robust the rural economy.