VST Tillers Tractors, a leading manufacturer of farm equipment and tractors, is widening its product portfolio in power tiller and other small farm equipment segments and simultaneously ramping up dealer network to support its growth plans.

Big growth

It has set out a strategy to become a strong small farm mechanisation company over the next 4-5 years. “We are betting big on this small equipment category as we are seeing a lot of demand for small farm equipment — power weeders, brush cutters, even things like chainsaws. Demand for these is coming from across the country as labourers have become scarce and people are wanting to do it themselves, especially the ones who have 2-3 acre farms. So, there is an exponential growth for these machines as the segment has been recording a CAGR of 20-22 per cent,” Antony Cherukara, Chief Executive Officer of the company, told BusinessLine .

Total market

In FY21, the total market for power weeders alone was about 125,000 units and it is expected to grow to 150,000-170,000 units this fiscal. Though the market is highly unorganised, consolidation is expected going forward.

In power tillers, we are looking at 20-30 per cent growth. For small and marginal farmers, the power tiller is an affordable machine. And the dependency on subsidies has gone down. So, there are multiple reasons driving growth and as leaders (with 53-54 per cent market share) we are bringing out new products so that the affordability can be ensured, he said.

A few days ago, the company launched what it called India’s first 9 HP, electric start, indigenous power tiller, specifically for farming, orchard, nursery & gardening applications.

Supply opportunity

Cherukara said the ban on import of power tillers from China provided an opportunity for the company to supply to all the importers who were buying from China. "With adequate capacity, we have been supplying to major players already and we are in talks with a couple of other players to supply power tillers," he added.

In the first year of operation after it entered into a distribution tie-up with French company Pubert for power weeders, VST Tillers sold about 1,800 units of Pubert’s weeders and in this fiscal it expects exponential growth in sales as it has already sold more than 1,000 units in the past few months.

To support its growth plans, the company will continue to ramp up its dealer network. Last year, it added about 155 dealers in power tillers and 100 dealers in tractors. The company plans to have about 800 dealers in the tractor and close to 1,000 dealers in the small farm mechanisation space. Currently, it has about 520 dealers in the power tiller space and about 350 dealers in the tractor space, he said.

“Last year we achieved a milestone by clocking over 40 per cent growth. This year, in the first quarter, we clocked 33 per cent growth and we expect to continue to do that,” he said.