Tractors in India

Tractors in India are a major industry and contribute significantly to the growth of agricultural production.

In 1947, when India gained independence from the British Empire, the level of agricultural mechanization was low. The socialist-oriented five-year plans of the 1950s and 1960s actively promoted rural mechanization through joint ventures and linkages between local industrialists and international tractor manufacturers. Despite these efforts, local production of 4-wheel tractors grew slowly for the first three decades after independence. By the late 1980s, tractor production was nearly 140,000 units per year and the prevalence rate was less than 2 per 1,000 farmers.

After the 1991 economic reforms, the rate of change picked up, and by the late 1990s production was approaching 270,000 per year. In the early 2000s, India overtook the United States as the world’s largest producer of four-wheel tractors. The FAO estimated in 1999 that less than 50 percent of all farmland in India was under mechanized land preparation, indicating that there is still great potential for agricultural mechanization.

In 2013, India produced 619,000 tractors representing 29% of world production, being the world’s largest tractor producer and market. Currently, there are 16 domestic and 4 multinational corporations manufacturing tractors in India.

History of tractors in India

In the mid-1940s, surplus military tractors and bulldozers were imported for land reclamation and cultivation. In 1947, central and state tractor organizations were established to develop and promote the supply and use of tractors in agriculture, and until 1960 the demand was fully met by imports. There were 8,500 tractors in use in 1951, 20,000 in 1955, and 37,000 by 1960.

By 1970, annual production exceeded 20,000 units, with more than 146,000 units in operation.

By the late 1960s, the Indian government initiated the Green Revolution program in India , and the need for mechanization increased the demand for agricultural tractors. The initial demand of the Government allowed large imports mainly from the USSR and its Eastern Bloc neighbors . In addition, six new manufacturers were established during this period, although three companies (Kirloskar Tractors, Harsha Tractors and Pittie Tractors) did not survive. HMT, a large state-owned company, began manufacturing agricultural tractors in 1972 under the HMT brand, using technology acquired from Zetor of the Czech Republic. Escorts Ltd. began local production of Ford tractors in 1971 in cooperation with Ford, UK, and total production grew steadily to 33,000 in 1975-76

Five other manufacturers (Auto Tractors , Haryana Tractors, United Auto Tractors, Asian Tractors, VST Tillers) began production during this period, but only the latter survived the growing competitive market. Annual production exceeded 75,000 units by 1985 and reached 140,000 in 1990, when the total in use was about 1.2 million. Then India, which had been a net importer until the mid-seventies, became an exporter in the 1980s, mainly to African countries.

Since 1992, there was no need to obtain an industrial license to manufacture tractors in India. By 1997, annual production exceeded 255,000 units and the national number of tractors passed the 2 million mark. India has now become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of wheeled tractors.

Five new manufacturers began production during this period. In 1998, Bajaj Tempo, later renamed Force Motors, began manufacturing tractors in Pune. In April of the same year, New Holland Tractor (India) Ltd. launched production of 70 hp tractors with related equipment by investing $75 million in a modern plant in Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh with an initial capacity of 35,000 units per year. Also at this time, Larsen and Tubro formed a joint venture with John Deere , USA to produce 35-65 hp tractors at a plant in Pune, Maharashtra. And Greeves Ltd started producing tractors under similar arrangements with Deutz-Fahr of Italy. Now CASE Case IH, intending to establish a joint venture in India, had been in talks with various Indian companies and in 1999 reached an agreement with New Holland Pvt Ltd. India for the production of CASE-branded tractors and harvesting equipment at New Holland.

1999 to date
In the face of market saturation in the traditional northwest markets (Punjab, Haryana, West Uttar Pradesh), tractor sales began a slow and slight decline. By 2002, sales had dropped below 200,000. Manufacturers entered markets in eastern and southern India, trying to stem the decline, and began to explore the potential of overseas markets.

In 2013 India produced 619,000 tractors, accounting for 29% of global production. It is the world’s largest tractor manufacturer and market for their products. Currently, there are 16 domestic and 4 multinational corporations producing tractors in India. In 2014, Zetor returned to India and teamed up with local tractor manufacturers to supply tractors under the Zetor brand to other countries from 40 to 75