Excerpts from an over hour-long interview with Mallika Srinivasan, Chairman and CEO, TAFE.

On farm land consolidation

We’re not seeing a huge trend there. Yes, there has been some informal consolidation, and some of the cash crops such as sugarcane see large acreage. In potatoes, you see corporate farming.

We are certainly seeing aspirational levels going up, farmers moving from a smaller tractor to a little bigger tractor. While we are seeing aspirations change we are not seeing a huge change that the Indian tractor market is going to move from being 60 hp into a huge above-60 hp market.

On corporate farming

Again, we are not seeing a huge trend; not seeing huge shifts beyond 60 hp, nothing visible to us so far.

On off-field activities for tractors

We do see them as secondary equipment, in infrastructure projects. Also, we see industrial applications with loaders and attachments going into infrastructure, they are not the primary piece of equipment but, yes, we do see them being used.

On specialised applications

Big farm consolidation is not happening so you can’t look at Western models of mechanisation in this country; we got to find our own models. One of the reasons why we brought in smaller compact tractors from Gujarat, the Captain tractors, is that we see them being used for special purpose applications in Maharashtra and Gujarat. In pockets such as vineyards or groundnut areas, which need less tillage or in inter-cultivation, they need lighter and small machines.

On innovation

You can’t just bring in huge combine harvesters from Western countries and put them in this country. In India, traditionally the tractor has been on the top with the harvester built below. Now, we have a tractor at the bottom, and the harvesters are built around the tractor. This, actually, we found lowers the cost, is more fuel-efficient and gives a good performance on the field. Going forward, if you want to capitalise on any of the trends that we are seeing in the market we need to innovate and come up with solutions that would be useful, relevant and cost effective.

vinaykamath@ thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 12, 2012)
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