Indian agriculture courts transformation at a time when it faces rising labour cost, it has opened the door for seed drilling machines. Eyeing the opportunity, various companies have started knocking the door of Indian farmers with their machines, and response from curious farmers has been very positive. Mohd Mustaquim reports
Rising farm labour cost and rural people’s migration from farming to non-farming jobs pose as a major challenge to Indian farmers in continuing their operations. Drought, urbanisation and low return on investment are such factors that force young generation to quit farming.
According to a census data, released in 2011, around 9 million farm workers left farming jobs in a decade. Moreover, farmers often complain increasing labour cost due to Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Scheme.
In India agricultural mechanisation was confined in usage of tractors, which later spread to combined harvesters. In the wake of increasing labour cost during the last decade has witnessed a few more changes. Traditionally, sowing is done manually, while in the recent decade, the trend has changed and now farmers are adopting modern tools in daily operations in the field.
Many agricultural machinery companies have come out with modern seed drilling machines for sowing. In recent agri machinery exhibitions many Indian and International agri equipment companies showcased their equipments including seed drilling machines.
According to Manmohan Singh, a senior official at Ludhiana-based National Agro Industries, seed drilling machines have become necessary for farmers in the current scenario as labour cost has increased. If farmers do not use machineries, it will be very tough for them to sustain. His company claims to be Asia’s pioneer company in seed drilling machine manufacturing.
On penetration of seed drilling machines, Singh says: “Currently around 30 percent of India’s farmers are using seed drilling machines. And for those farmers who do not have used seed drilling machines, National Agro Industries has made a strategy to give practical experience and make them aware about the benefits of the machines.”
“Seed drilling machines necessarily help farmers. After using these machines, farmers need minimum number of labourers. So they save labour cost as well as time,” says Gokul Patnaik ,a prominent agriculture expert and chairman of Global Agri System. “Traditionally, through manually sowing, there were high input and low output, while seed drilling machines help farmers in increasing their farm productivity. Now they can use reasonable quantity of seeds and fertilisers with standard depth.”
The seed and fertiliser cost has also increased in the past many years, so it has become necessary for famers to use them in judicious manner.
Many agri machinery companies have now come out with seed drilling machines in India. Meanwhile, some international agri implement companies are also trying to cater to the farmers of one of the world’s largest agrarian economies. Around 60 percent of India’s population is dependent on agriculture which gives the companies opportunity to make and sell their products which can benefit the farming community.
Rajkot-based Khedut Agro Engineering is one of the premier seed drilling machine manufacturers in India, and makes a vast range of machines for various kinds of crops. Dharti Agro Engineering is another Rajkot-based company which manufactures various ranges of seed drilling machines, from manually operated to tractor-driven seed-cum-fertiliser drilling machines.
Shailesh Bhai Patel, a senior official at Dahrti Agro, says, “We manufacture a vast range of products as per the need of a farmer. They cost from Rs 25,000 to Rs 60,000. Some states also provide subsidy to farmers which makes these machine affordable for the farming community.”
According to Patel, their tractor-driven machines can sow around 20 acres of land in approximately eight hours. These machines save labour cost and huge time. They also save seeds and fertilisers, and there is no need of any training to operate the machine.
Currently, his company sells its products in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab and plans to spread its foothold in the rest of the country.
Rajkot appears to be a hub for manufacturers; Shatktiman is another Rajkot-based manufacturer which primarily focuses on rotavators and tillers. But after getting demand for seed drilling machines, the company has started manufacturing seed drilling machines. According to the company, farmers are very enthusiastic about their products. While Captain Tractors which manufactures mini tractors and has nationwide distribution network, has now spread its portfolio to seed drilling machines and seems enthusiastic.
Among the international manufacturers, Maschio Gaspardo, an Italian farm equipment company, entered India two years ago and has a tie up with Mahindra Tractors for distribution. Through this tie up the company has now become capable to penetrate the interiors of the country. According to Riulini Alessio, Director-Sales & Marketing at the company, “Now maximum number of farmers is doing seed drilling through mechanical way. The low cost machines attract farmers from all strata.” And the company has been experiencing a very positive response from the farmers.
Agricultural mechanisation has spread from tractors to various machineries. Central and state governments also promote mechanisation to improve farm production. Since more than 60 percent of people in the country are dependent on agriculture, they must be empowered with modern technologies. If fragmented farmland slows down farm mechanisation, cooperative farming can be a role model to adopt this kind of transformation.
Agriculture is going through technological transformation across the globe. Being an agrarian country, it is vital for India to keep an eye on the transformation is taking place in the other countries, and if they are useful for Indian terrains, we can adopt it.