Farming involves a variety of vehicles that have no general use outside of a field. They are purpose-built machines, each of which fulfils a specific purpose. Farm vehicles work the field for transportation, livestock management and harvesting purposes. You need to understand that the mechanization of farming is required to provide productive and efficient agriculture. Farming vehicles are relatively new in the Indian context. In the past, oxen pulled the ploughs. Even now, animals are used across the country for various farming operations. In addition to ploughing and planning, animals are used to transport heavy loads and produce.
Timeline of Tractors
In the last 50 years, India has witnessed a speedy growth in tractor adoption and manufacturing. At present, we have become one of the biggest tractor markets worldwide. The primary aim is to increase farmers’ income and productivity with the help of agri-operations. Higher output is possible via farm vehicles as they reduce losses. There is no need for livestock management as no animals have to be domesticated for farming purposes. In this section, we will inform you about the timeline of tractor growth in India, as tractors have been the foremost farm vehicle for our farmers.
1945-1960: Before gaining independence, war surplus bulldozers and tractors were brought to the country for cultivation and land reclamation. Also, Central & State Tractor organizations were established in 1947 to promote and develop the use and supply of tractors in farming. Till 1960, the tractor demand was mainly fulfilled via imports.
1961-1980: In 1961, five manufacturers started to manufacture tractors locally. During 1970-80, 6 new manufacturers popped up in the scene. The manufacturing of Ford tractors began in 1971 in collaboration with Escorts Ltd.
1980-Present: In 1981-1990, more tractor manufacturers entered the market. By 1990, around 140,000 tractors were being produced annually. There was no need for an industrial license to manufacture tractors after 1992. By 1997, the total number of tractors reached two million across the country. Bajaj Tempo started manufacturing tractors in 1998 through a plant in Pune. 70 HP tractors were started by New Holland Tractor in 1998. John Deere entered into a joint venture with Larsen & Toubro to produce 35-65 HP tractors.
Evolution of Farming Vehicles
Tractors had to be produced as an alternative to working animals like horses and oxen. These animals have been pulling ploughs and carts for centuries. The inspiration behind tractors was to replace horses for doing farm activities. Due to this, early tractors were only used for pulling things. In 1914, the British government brought the first tractors to India to clear bushes from forests for farming purposes. Mostly the government used tractors for agricultural activities. However, farmers who could afford them could also use them. There was limited use of tractors in agriculture till 1930.
The Indian government focused on transforming the agricultural sector post-independence. For this reason, several tractors were imported into the country. Indian manufacturers studied them to modify these tractors as per Indian conditions. The first batch of tractors by Indian manufacturers rolled out in 1961. The key tractor manufacturers included:
- Mahindra & Mahindra
- Escorts Tractors Ltd.
- TAFE Ltd.
- Gujarat Tractors
- Eicher Motors
In the next decade, there was a massive growth in domestic tractor production. However, India was still importing tractors from countries like the UK, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Poland and the former Soviet Union. The government put a ban on tractor imports to focus on the manufacturing of indigenous tractors. Due to this, foreign manufacturers started collaborating with Indian companies to produce tractors across the country. At that time, 35 HP tractors of Escorts Tractors Ltd. turned out to be a huge success. There was so much growth in tractor or mini tractors production that India started to export tractors to other nations by 1980.
The green revolution boosted tractor manufacturing as the government established national and state farming corporations to support our farmers. Low-interest rates were offered to farmers on their loans to help them buy farming machinery. The government started establishing custom-hiring centres so farmers could afford expensive farm machinery. These centres are run by non-governmental organizations, entrepreneurs and tractor companies. In addition, farmers have started pooling their resources to form co-operatives and purchase big farm machinery. At present, India is considered among the biggest producers of tractors worldwide. Tractors are mainly produced in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. In addition, countries like America, Europe, Africa and Asia import Indian-made tractors.
Indian farmers generally prefer 4-W tractors in the range of 31-40 HP. It is mainly because these tractors can perform multiple agricultural tasks. In addition, tractors are used in gardens, orchards and farms for farming and to transport equipment, goods and produce. Farmers have started to move towards higher HP tractors as it has become an attractive market segment across the country. However, they are only employed on giant farms as these tractors are very expensive.
Present and the Future
Undoubtedly, Indian farmers have come to understand the advantages of farm vehicles. Tractors have helped them reduce labouring efforts and grow different crops yearly. Farm operations have become easy and can be completed quicker than before. Also, government subsidies and funding, along with finance from financial institutions like regional rural banks, state land development banks and commercial banks, are helping Indian producers to buy farm vehicles. India is also facing a labour shortage, which means farm vehicles have become a necessity for farmers.
The agricultural machinery market is going to expand in the future. The developments in this sector will boost it. More farmers are accepting farm mechanization as it has become a cheaper alternative in the long run. In addition, modern tractors come with advanced features like data collection, connectivity, climate-controlled cabins, AC cabins, sensors and autonomous features. Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things will become critical components of new farm vehicles. These features will allow farmers to plan their farming suitably and enhance productivity. Also, additional farm vehicles like two-wheel tractors, compact tractors, row crop tractors and seeders will become standard on Indian farms.