Kirloskar Oil Engines Ltd. (KOEL) known for its diesel engines, gensets and pumpsets, has made a major foray into the low horse power (HP) tillers to provide cost effective solutions to small and marginal farmers.
On April 5, the company launched three sub-15 HP tillers, with a host of segment-first features for the comfort and safety of the farmer, three years after it launched its first "Mega T" tiller in India. "The reliability, low operating costs and high return on investment of 'Mega T' made Kirloskar the most preferred brand (in that segment). It's a Rs 120 crore business now, with full range of products (from 3 HP to 15 HP) targeting the small and marginal farmers. This includes power tillers, seeder, sprayer, potato digger, etc.", says Antony Cherukara, VP Corporate Strategy & Business Head Agriculture, KOEL.
The company has already invested over Rs 100 crores in developing these smart farm technology solutions for the small farmer, he said. "Continuous and proactive planning and strategic measures have made KOEL one of the biggest and most sought after engineering solution providers globally. The introduction of the entire KMW range of the Power Tiller & power weeder shows our commitment to the farmers and our support to the government of India's "Make in India" initiative. The overwhelming acceptance of our products and services, particularly amongst the farmers in all the regions, reinforces our belief that we are on the right track in the larger perspective", adds R. R. Deshpande, Joint Managing Director, KOEL.
The size of the Indian tiller market with power up to 15 HP is estimated to be around 52,000 units. "We started of as a category creator with a 15 HP tiller and have a 60% market share. But the less than 15 HP segment constitutes bulk of the tiller market. With the recent introductions we are entering that market too which has a size of 46,000 units", says Cherukara.
On an average, tiller costs Rs 1.8 lakh, much lower than Rs 7 lakh, the cost of a tractor. Cherukara says that the potential of a power tiller that provides a seat, hydraulic brakes and side power off is huge when one considers the fact that 6,50,000 units of tractors are sold in the country. "Tiller industry is one-tenth the size of tractor. The anomaly is that majority of Indian farmers (85%) are small and marginal and cannot afford a tractor. We are trying to offer affordable solutions to this large segment", he says.
KOEL has 330 channel partners across the country to market its farm mechanisation products. "By the end of this year we will have 500 dealers in place. It is a completely new set up which we have built up across India in the last three years", Cherukara says.
Nearly 57.8 percent of India's rural households are engaged in agriculture. Around 60-70% of the Indian population (directly or indirectly) depends upon the agriculture sector which currently contributes to 17-18% of GDP. Of them, over 69 percent possess or work on marginal land holdings, and 17.1 percent, on small landholdings.