Over the last few years, there has been considerable progress in agriculture mechanization. It is generally believed that the benefits of modern technology have been restricted to farmers with large land-holdings. Yet the fact remains that even small farmers are adopting and utilising selected farm equipments for efficient farm management through custom hiring. Mechanical equipments for various farm operations like tillage, sowing, irrigation, plant protection and threshing etc are generally being used by the farming community.
Moreover, reliance on animate power for day to day management of farm operations is showing a continuous decline owing to higher gains in form of improved land and labour productivity resulting from use of mechanical power. Improved implements such as M B plough, puddler, disc harrow, peg tooth harrow, spring line harrow being more efficient have been adopted. Further, use of sowing or planting devices is also registering a higher growth due to their impact on seed and fertiliser use. The number of draught animals has also shown a decline as a consequence of farm mechanization.
A growing shortage of farm hands and smaller land holdings are forcing many farmers to mechanise their farms, allowing multinational agri implement companies to tap into Indian market. A 2006 study by consulting firm Zinnov said that the agri equipment market in India would grow at a compounded rate of 5% between 2006 and 2010 to touch $8 billion. Today, a large number of Chinese, Japanese, American and Italian firms has forged alliances with Indian companies. These include Kuboto and Mitsubishi of Japan, Zhejiang Sifang of China, John Deere of the US and New Holland of Italy .
With most of these implements eligible for bank funding, financing is also not a major issue. In Punjab, for instance, the state government has been giving subsidies to farmers purchasing farm machineries like tillers and paddy transplantors through a central scheme from the Agricultural Product Pattern Adjustment Programme . HR Ravindranath, regional manager of Kolkata-based Ganga Motors, which sells the Sifang range of tillers, says Indian farmers prefer to buy their equipment as the product is competitively priced. The market for tillers in India is placed around 45,000 units of which close to 6,000 are sold in Karnataka alone. Similarly, John Deere, which recently introduced heavy duty 89-HP tractor, is also looking at entering the tiller market.
Zhejiang Sifang, which was founded in 1961, has a number of tie-up including Souza Machinery of Bangalore and Ganga Motors. It is the growing demand for tillers which saw Bangalore-based VST Tillers partner with Mitsubishi over three decades to launch the first of its tillers in the country. Potato farmers in Punjab have been aggressively buying a variety of imported implements. These include potato graders from New Zealand's Wyma, potato planters from Italy's Spedo and potato harvetser from Italy's Titunni. However, not all are convinced with the utility of agri implements. Vikram Ahuja of Zamindara Farm Solutions recounts how square balers and rakes (used to collect paddy straw) were found to be economically unviable by marginal and medium farmers. Farmers are often forced to undertake change in planting methodologies.