New Holland, a world leading agricultural equipment brand and a part of CNH Industrial after the recent merger of CNH Global and Fiat Industrial, offers the widest range of tractors and farm machinery to suit the needs of every farmer and contractor. It is one of the most awarded brands for ground-breaking and accessible technology which improves farming efficiency and productivity. Its local base, New Holland Fiat India (NHFI), currently offers technologically superior range of 32 HP to 90 HP tractors manufactured in the Greater Noida plant. In an exclusive chat with EQUIPMENT INDIA, Seema Singh, General Manager - Corporate Communications, New Holland Fiat (India), shares her views on the growth prospects of the agri-equipment sector in India. Excerpts of the interview.
What should India do to address the farm labour issues?
In the next 40 years, the world population is expected to increase by 1/3 to more than 9 billion. Feeding such population, which may require doubling agricultural productivity, will only be possible with significant, even groundbreaking, improvements in agricultural machines and processes. Agricultural mechanisation has played a major role and will continue to be a key factor in increasing productivity and convenience for the farmers and in achieving economical gains while feeding a growing population. Emerging countries such as India, China and South Africa are seeing significant economic growth with associated technology transfer and progress in agricultural production. They are becoming important players in the world markets for agricultural machinery and represent promising markets with high demands for further mechanisation.
In India, agriculture contributes large shares to the GDP and more than one-third of the population gains income from agriculture. All this, together with a lack of labour, is boosting farm mechanisation, which in turn, can expedite certain processes and lead to faster crop cycles. As manual labour cannot achieve the speed of a machine, productivity would be naturally better with farm mechanisation. Farm mechanisation is the need of the time, and farmers are willing to change their old methods. New Holland has all the solutions in place for farm mechanisation.
What are your major products, apart from tractors?
We have machines that cover all types of needs from soil preparation to seed plantation. We have pneumatic planters, fertiliser spreader, balers, harvesters, etc. Balers add extra income to the wallet of farmers as they get a cleaner field quickly, and can sell the leftover while contributing to preserve the environment. At New Holland, we understand the farmers´ need to operate efficiently and economically, and we believe in the importance of preserving natural resources to safeguard the farm´s productivity today and for future generations. This is what we address with our clean energy leader strategy, promoting sustainable farming practices and the use of mechanisation to ensure our customers´ continued profitability.
What do you think about local vs overseas suppliers? How do you handle aftersales service?
We strongly believe in the importance of supporting our customers by providing a complete package: quality products that match their requirements, at competitive prices to meet their business needs, together with quality service support to keep their equipment running, as well as advice and training to help them get the most from mechanisation and apply best farming practices.
To do this, in-depth knowledge of local business and farming conditions is essential, and although we are a multinational, we are local manufacturers as well. This enables us to have in place the proper networks and trained mechanics apart from things like spare parts availability to support our customers. Talking about high technology is not everything. You need to have a strong back-up, with customer touch points at all the potential locations û New Holland offers all this to farmers in India.
Our plant is based in Greater Noida and has an area of 60 acre. We have close to 800 customer touch-points. To penetrate further into rural belts so that we are closer to our customers even in remote areas, our main dealers appoint satellite dealers under their territory. We have a lot of authorised service centres to take care of the customers´ needs once a machine is sold.
India lacks well-trained technicians to look after farm machines. What is your company doing to train farmers?
We have two training centres to train our personnel. Last year, we had tied up with the Odisha Department of Agriculture to train unemployed rural youth to handle and repair tractors and other farm machines, thus making them employable. We encourage more of such activities, which contribute to society development and increase the chances of employment and earnings for rural youth. Likewise, we have also formed partnership with Navsari Agricultural University and Punjab Agricultural University to train students in farm mechanisation and machine handlings. It is important as we will need three million trained machine operators and technicians to look after farm mechanisation in the country in the near future.
What are the major challenges facing this sector?
Indian agriculture sector is primarily dependent on the monsoon and so it has to face uncertainty. If monsoon is good, everything is good and if it is bad, farmers face the worst. Farm machinery industry went down by 2.5 per cent in 2012 just because of poor rains. So, the monsoon is the main factor that can decide future of farmers as well as the farm machinery sector. On the other hand, farm mechanisation can help farmers address the challenge of this uncertainty, providing a resource that can contribute in a more productive way, together with appropriate farming techniques to cope with the effects of these weather fluctuations.
What is your market share in the tractor segment?
We are representing the tractor segment from 32 HP to 90 HP. Our total market share (including all range tractors) is in the single figures, but if we exclude lower ranges (below 32 HP) which are not present in our product portfolio, our market share in 32 HP to 90 HP is in double digits. In some states, we enjoy stronger positions reaching almost a fourth of the market, and we are growing. Till last year, our production capacity was 30,000 tractors. This year, it will reach up to 40,000, and by 2015, the production capacity will rise further.
What are your views on future growth potential?
It is good. Last year, the monsoon was good; the industry prospects were good and it is likely to be the same this year. The tractor industry is witnessing a boom in sales and that is very attractive. NHFI, as you can see, is growing at a fast pace and we are committed to supporting more customers as well as the agribusiness sector in this country.
This year, our production will reach up to 40,000, and by 2015, the production capacity will rise further.