In view of the transforming the lives of the Indian farmers, the Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd (KOEL), a manufacturer of power gen sets and pump sets, has stepped up its focus on farm mechanization as it seeks to drive the sales of its power tillers in the country while tapping overseas markets.
The power tillers are used for various kind of farm operations such as land preparation, weeding and application of fertilizer. Tillers form part of the affordable mechanization as the cost of these machines are one forth of a tractor.
The company, which sells power tillers under the KMW brand, is targeting a sales of around 7,500-8,000 power tillers this year, up from 4,500 units sold last year, informed Anthony Cherukara, Vice-President, Corporate Strategy and Head-Agriculture Business at KOEL. The company, which focussed initially on the markets in South and East, has expanded its presence in the West and northern States, where it was getting good response for the power tillers, he said.
Cherukara further added that the shortage of labour and rising wage costs are the key factors driving the demand for the power tiller machines, mainly from the small and medium farmers, whom KOEL is targeting.
However, the availability of finance has been an issue in expanding the market. As power tillers are not registered with the Regional Transport Offices/Authority, the financial institutions and banks are hesitant in extending the finance to farmers for purchasing them. “We are trying to work out an arrangement with the public sector banks to finance the power tillers,” Cherukara said.
KOEL forayed into farm mechanization three years ago and has set up a ₹100-crore manufacturing facility in Kolhapur with an annual capacity of 10,000 power tillers. The farm mechanization business contributes around ₹200 crore to the topline of KOEL, Cherukara said. KOEL clocked a revenue of ₹2,887 crore and net profit of ₹150 crore during 2017-18.
KOEL has recently launched a 15 HP power tiller, a ride-on machine, on which the farmers can sit and operate. Also, it has launched a tiller with hydraulics, which should benefit the farmers, Cherukara said adding that the company was also working on a rice transplanter.
KOEL has partnered with a Taiwanese firm to introduce hand held farm equipments such as brush cutter among others, he said.