India’s nano or chota tractors help thousands of farmers in mechanisation
From groundnuts farming in the rainfed region of Rajkot, Gujarat, to owning an unit which manufactures India’s Nano or chota tractor, two brothers – Maganbhai and Gandubhai Patel in their 60s, have helped thousands of country’s small farmers in adopting mechanization of pre and post harvest processes. They have set up the unit without a formal technical knowledge.
Both the Patel brothers – Managing Director and Chairman of Captain Tractors, an annual Rs 50 crore turnover company, is known for manufacturing small tractors with a machine capacities of 12 Horse Power (HP) against conventional tractor with capacities ranging from 25 – 100 HP. The chota tractors are available at a price range of Rs 2.25 lakh – Rs 3 lakh which is half the price of big tractor.
Since 1998, company, which directly employs 125 people (including 25 engineers) at Rajkot plant, has manufactured close to 10,000 chota tractors which has been not only accepted in many states but also been exported to atleast to five countries – Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Kenya. Although the family owned enterprise has no technical or business background, the company follows Enterprise Response Planning (ERP) and ISO certification in their enterprise.
“Small farmers find the cost of tractors attractive, it also saves a lot of diesel and maintenance cost,” Rajesh Patel, Director, Captain Tractors said. He said against diesel consumption of around 3-4 litres per hour in a conventional tractor, chota tractor consumes only a litre besides the savings on the cost of batteries and other maintenance expenses.
A small tractor can be utilized upto 80% of its capacity on an average, while bigger tractors are useful only up to 20% of the full capacity by small farmers, the research conducted by the Captain tractor revealed.
Patel brothers while working in their field found out that there was acute of shortage of labour which was hit the small farmers hard. Although small in size, the chota tractor is capable of performing all cultivation operations normally performed by higher HP tractors like land preparations, sowing, inter-cultivation, irrigation, harvesting, post harvesting operations and transportation of goods to nearby mandis.
Rajesh Patel admits that convincing a small farmer to buy small tractor was difficult. “We found out that big tractors are needed only for 10 days in a year thus can be rented, but chota tractor has 30 odd functions which is customized according to crop grown by the farmers,” he said.
Initially, Patel brothers sold 40 proto type small tractors in and around Rajkot back in late 1990s. After seeing the popularity, the company submitted the chota tractor to Bhopal based Farm Machinery Training and Testing Institute, under the ministry of agriculture, for testing. Upon getting approval, the company launched the tractor in Gujarat in 2000 and subsequently in many other states such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa.
With financial institutions such as Dena Bank, Bank of Baroda and other providing loans for the nano tractor and agriculture ministry’s subsidy component of around Rs 45,000 for each tractor, the company is looking at achieving turnover of Rs 100 crore during next one decade.
Last fiscal Chennai-based $ 1.3 billion Tractors and Farm Equipment Ltd (TAFE) had entered into a strategic alliance with Captain Tractors for manufacturing tractors with up to 20 hp The latter will design, develop and manufacture application-focused compact sub-20 hp tractors for TAFE, while distribution network for Captain Tractors would be dealt by Chennai based company.
Due to this innovation, Captain Tractor has received two national awards for best entrepreneurship and R& D work in 2008 by the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).