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It's a story that had actually commenced a little less than three decades ago. But along its journey, it has picked up strength amply exemplifying how new technological applications can be harnessed to make a difference to the development planning process. Haryana Space Application Centre (HARSAC) which was set up in 1986 in Hisar has emerged as a model unit in the domain of Remote Sensing and GIS applications clearly underlining the practical implications of these techniques which are beneficial in many ways.

The centre was formed under the Department of Science& Technology, Government of Haryana and the  main objective  was  to undertake, promote, guide, coordinate and aid research and development in the field of remote sensing and also to carry out surveys for monitoring and assessment of the entire gamut of natural resources.  These techniques prove helpful in making the maps ready and extracting more accurate data base pertaining to  natural resources, environment, infrastructure and town for anykind of  development  planning process. The lack of data is often believed to be a major stumbling block in planning projects and herein this centre is proving its efficacy by furnishing new and right data in a digital form, thanks to Geo-Informatics applications which helps in pragmatic planning of projects.

In this centre, a team of national and international skilled scientists are engaged consistently in undertaking research related with  agriculture, soils, forests, land use, environment, water resources, fertilizer resources, town planning and geographic information system applications. This centre is technically  supported by Department of Space, Govt of India.

From Haryana government's standpoint, HARSAC is a nodal agency  working in the area of remote sensing, geographic information system application and global positioning system related work and it is also entrusted with the responsibility of acquiringm remote sensing data for different departments  of the state.

HARSAC has all facilities, equipments, hardware and software available for digital image processing, geo informatics service(GIS) and GPS survey. Apart from this, HARSAC has a huge satellite database from various Indian and International missions for use in resource mapping of Haryana state.

The report card of  HARSAC is quite impressive.  After its establishment, HARSAC has completed more than 125 projects related to natural resources, environment, management of the structure and land resources mapping and currently 25 projects are on going. These projects belong to various divisions and agencies of Haryana and the Union  government.

In terms of near to medium run scenario, HARSAC will be undertaking several prestigious projects including modernisation of the land records of Haryana under the Indian governments national land record modernisation programme(NLRMP).

Apart from this, HARSAC is also in the process of putting in place one Haryana Space Data Infrastructure - an ambitious project aimed to provide the auto space data and  mapping for the development and inspection of the developmental projects related to various divisions of the state government.

Another distinctive element of HARSAC's functioning is its engagement with well defined training programmes. Apart from conducting  training and capability programmes for the high school and college students,  the centre in association with GJU S & T Hisar has also started a course in M.Tech (Gio Informatics).

80% of India's Farmers have less than five acres of land, this forms a big consumer base for small tractor segment.

Small tractor market estimated to be 30,000 units per annum with the growth rate of 2.9%, enough to attract big national and international players like M&M, TAFE, ESCORTS and few others.

Major section of consumer base of small tractors resides in remote places, sophisticated supply chain and effective after sale servicing will post major challenge to this market.

The average per capita land holding in India is 1.33 hectare, far below the world average of 3.7 hectares. More than 80 percent of India's farmers fall into the group of marginal and small farmers who have less than two hectares of farm land. These 80 percent farmers of India control over 39 percent of India's total arable lands. The maximum numbers of small and marginal farmers are concentrated in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

Increasing labour cost boosting small tractor sales
According to Mahindra & Mahindra Tractors, farmers are dealing with issues like shortage of labour and increasing labour cost. Hence, from a small farmer's perspective, buying a small tractor helps get work done faster and is a cost effective option. Clubbed with this, large tractors, due to their heavy weight, cannot be used for inter-culture for cash crops like soya, cotton and ground nut. Hence, it is easier to use small tractor for such operations. Small tractors are also gaining acceptance for haulage.

This huge number of small and marginal farmers have opened the door for small and customised agricultural machinery and equipments. Besides, big tractor manufacturing companies such as Mahindra & Mahindra, Tractors and Farm Equipment Ltd, (TAFE), Escorts, some small regional tractor manufacturing companies make small and customised tractors, focusing on the marginal farmers.

According to Manoj Kumar Chhawchharia, chairman of Kolkata-based Assam SAII Motors Pvt. Ltd, because of small and decreasing land holding the future market of tractors would lie on small tractors. In today's scenario, farmers are using those kinds of rotavators and tillers which are more suitable for small tractors. Assam SAII Motors is the manufacturer of Rhino tractor.

He further says, "Our expertise has always aimed at empowering the farmer, whether in India or globally. We want to improve farm lifestyles by making hard work easier, increasing yields, and help the farmers prosper. With RHINO XT 2022 DI tractor, we aim to redefine the marginal tractor market in India and emerge as a market leader."

Elaborating on the small tractors' market in India, Sanjeev Goyle, Chief of Marketing - FES and Business Head - AppliTrac of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, says, "As per our estimate, tractors in the 15HP segment, today, contribute to approximately 3.4 percent of the tractor Industry i.e. about 20,000 tractors. In F-09 this segment was about 6000 tractors. Mahindra's Yuvraj 215 is the leading tractor model in this segment."

Mahendra Kr. Srivastava, manager - marketing of VST Tillers Tractors Ltd, states, "India has a market of 30,000 small tractors per annum with an average of Rs. 2.5 lakh each tractors' price. And the future of Indian tractor market will be on small tractor segment." His company has technological collaboration with Japanese motor company Mitsubishi since 1965 and makes tractors under the names of VST Mitsubishi and Mitsubishi Shakti.
The multinational tractor companies, however, are a challenge to the small and new companies. According to Chhawchharia, directly not even a single new tractor company can compete with Mahindra Tractors. However, he is quite optimistic and believes that many companies are making tractors. "But, in the range between 18 - 22 HP, there are only four to five companies, manufacturing tractors and we are one of them. It is a very niche segment," he adds

Modus Operandi
To cater the small and marginal farmers, Mahindra & Mahindra launched its Yuvraj 215 in the year 2010 at a price of Rs. 1.75 lakh. Even today, it costs to the farmer at Rs. 2.25 lakh, which makes it one of the most price competitive tractors in its segment. According to the company, 70 percent customers of the Yuvraj 215 are first time buyers of a tractor.
"We have so far developed 12 major implements for small tractors, especially for Yuvraj 215. The Yuvraj 215's low cost of ownership and best-in-class fuel efficiency make mechanisation as affordable as a pair of bullocks revolutionising rural India", Goyle further says.
To achieve technological competency, these small tractor manufacturers have partnered with foreign companies. Following the suit of VTS Tillers Tractors, Assam SAII Motors uses technological know-how of Chinese tractor maker, XINGTAI First Tractor Company Ltd. These companies are able to deliver more compact features and services with their tractors. Assam SAII Motors has delivered many features like automatic depth and draft control, digital instrument cluster, which can be found only in above 35 HP tractors.
However, providing enhanced post sales service is a major issue for them. Chhawchharia further says, "A tractor has an importance like a car for a farmer. So we provide 24x7 services to the farmers at their doorsteps. After getting a complaint, technicians rush to the farmers within 24 hours." His company keeps post sale services at its focal point and has created a separate department for servicing.
Focusing on the technological advancement, the company makes sound proof compact small tractors. While other companies make two-cylinder tractors in 18 - 22 HP segment, VST Tractors makes three-cylinder tractors.

Reaching Farmers
To expand footholds in the remote corners of the country, a good distribution network for any marketing company plays key role in its sustainability. In order to reach the farmers, VST Tractors has a network of 300 dealers with the similar number of post sale service centres. With this big network, the company claims to have around 45 percent market share of small segment tractors in India.
Rajkot-based White Wagon Tractors focuses on mini tractors, ranging from 12 HP to 16.5 HP which cost from Rs 2.35 lakh to Rs 2.85 lakh.  According to Mukesh Bhatt, assistant general manager of the company, the company manufactures more than 1000 tractors in the brand name of Viabhav and Utsav and sells them through around 100 dealers in India.
Assam SAII Motors has pan India distribution network with its 78 dealers directly under the company, which have sub-dealers with 350 Rhino outlets in the country. The company has special focus on the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Orissa and Assam. According to the company, these states are the potential markets for small tractors.

The Road Ahead
Increasing market penetration, VST Tractors is going to launch 25 HP tractors by the beginning of 2014. Seeing the vast opportunity in small tractors, Assam SAII Motors has expanded its manufacturing plant from Howrah in West Bengal to another one in Faridabad in Haryana. The company is also in talks with the governments of Haryana, Orissa and West Bengal to set up new manufacturing facilities. The company, currently, has a manufacturing capacity of 1,500 tractors, and it is planning to increase it up to 4,500 tractors by investing rupees 100 crores in the recent future.
Meanwhile, White Wagon Tractors is also planning to introduce five new models of mini tractors which can boost its manufacturing capacity to 1,500 tractors per annum.
Rajkot-based Captain Tractors, known for small tractors, is another emerging player in the market. Having pan India network, spreading over the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, the company claims that its small tractors save 40 percent of fuel consumption. And, therefore, the small tractors will be a helpful tool in empowering the marginal and small farmers of India.
The majority of small and marginal farmers can be a boon for the small tractor market in India. As the state governments provide financial assistance in the form of subsidy, the future of small tractors seems bright in the country.

Here is a gentleman symbolising the spirit of green innovation. While fossil fuel supplies threaten India's economy, efforts to tap alternate energy sources through bio-fuels are on the rise recently. Associated with the Rajasthan government and presently managing two Global tyre manufacturer Continental has started production and distribution of radial truck tyres for Indian rural market. With a production capacity of 220,000 radial truck tyres, Continental has been taking measures to expand its reach in the country after its acquisition of Indian tyre major Modi in 2011.

At present, the company has its focus on manufacturing tyres for trucks. As trucks are a key component of supply chain in India, Continental wants to make it roots deepen in rural India. Rajeev Kumar Agarwal, Director (Sales & Marketing) at Continental, said at the occasion, "The segment we are focusing currently is the commercial tyres, which have deep roots in rural India. Now we are strengthening our dealership network in the interiors of the country. As of now we have 1400 outlets in 70 cities, including tier II and tier III cities of India."

Dr. Andreas Esser, Head of the Commercial Vehicle Tyres business at Continental, said, "Introducing Continental radial truck tyres into the Indian market is a momentous occasion for us as India is the second largest market for truck tyres in the Asia-Pacific region."

"In India, currently, we are focusing on commercial tyres only. Once we would see any demand for small vehicle tyres we will further launch tyres for the segment," according to Benoit H Henry, CEO, Continental Tyres, Malaysia. 

Investing in local production capacity is part of Continental's strategy to diversify its global manufacturing footprint and expand business in growing markets, such as India. Continental has invested heavily into the construction of a new production plant alongside machinery for making radial tyres

By Mohd.Mustaquim

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