Already an engineering and machinery hub,Rajkot is also witnessing growth of the mini tractor industry. Twenty per cent of the total 3.5 lakh tractors sold last year in India were mini-tractors manufactured in Rajkot.
Three big companies are leading from the front,while a couple of small players are also engaged in this business. In fact,Rajkot is the only mini-tractor manufacturing hub in the country. With a growth rate of over 60 per cent,the mini-tractor market is set to claim a bigger market share at a time when due to family divisions,the land holding capacity of farmers is decreasing,affecting overall affordability,say experts. When subsidies are shrinking and loan availability is becoming difficult,mini- tractors that have half the price of their bigger version,but offer better fuel efficiency,are becoming the choice buy of small farmers.
The mini-tractors of Rajkot have already passed the quality tests of NABARD and Central Farm Machinery Training and Testing Institute. Now,they have also made a mark in the international market and the companies here have several orders from African and European countries in their kitty.
Based on engine capacity,the tractors have been classified into tractors with engine above 18 HP (horsepower) and mini with less than 18 HP. Rajkot,however,has been successful in manufacturing mini tractors with engine capacity of 9.5 HP. Also,they are 100 per cent indigenous in design and make.
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Developed by two farmer brothers,G Patel and M T Patel,who had nothing but field experience to employ,Captain Tractors Private Limited last month won two awards from the Ministry of Micro,Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in the categories Research and Development,and Entrepreneurship for the year 2008.
A decade ago,a similar bid by a couple of companies to start the mini-tractor industry in Maharashtra had failed. But the Rajkot companies Captain Tractors Private Limited,Fieldmarshal and Trishul have been competing with popular national and international brands. Here,skilled labour is available; and being the hub of diesel engines and machine tools,the Rajkot farmers have the engineering background that has helped the city to come up with an indigenous design, said G Patel,who had first begun his research on tractor in 1994.
The first model had rolled out in 1998. The present and award-winning model is the fourth version of it. Over 300 tractors are being produced every month at our factory, said R Patel of Asha Exim,adding,Given the location of Saurashtra,which is a major producer of groundnut and cotton,availability of labour and entrepreneurial nature of Rajkot,the mini-tractor industry is set to take a major leap in the coming year.
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