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Published on: April 24, 2023, 11:35 a.m.
Harvesting growth, the CLAAS way
  • A CLAAS Crop Tiger at work

By Arbind Gupta. Assistant Editor, Business India

CLAAS Agricultural Machinery Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the €4-billion Garman agriculture equipment manufacturer, is quite bullish on the Indian agriculture sector, which is increasingly adopting mechanisation. CLAAS is a European market leader in combine harvesters and considered world market leader in self-propelled forage harvesters. In fact, the company is well-known as a harvest specialist, offering combine harvesters in various sizes for almost all kinds of grains. These harvesters are designed exclusively to address the challenges being faced by Indian farmers, especially the grain losses due to manual harvesting.

Having entered India in 1991 as joint venture and then deciding to go solo in 2003, the Rs350-odd crore Indian business, headquartered in Bengaluru is not only serving India, but also exports to other SAARC nations, South-East Asia, the Middle-East, Africa and South America. The company has a strong distribution of 72 dealers, spread across India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh and provides round-the-clock support to over 10,000-odd customers. 

Employing about 600 people across production and sales/marketing in India, CLAAS has a modern manufacturing facility (installed capacity: 3,000 machines) in Chandigarh, where it manufactures about 1,200 machines annually (primarily combine harvesters). About 90 per cent of these machines are sold in India (the total market size: say, 9,000 harvesters), while the rest is exported. The price of a combine harvester is Rs25-30 lakh in India.

 Harvesting expert

“So, to the world, CLAAS is known as a harvesting expert,” says Mritunjaya Singh, managing director, CLAAS Agricultural Machinery Private Limited. “We are the pioneers in multi-crop harvesting in India. Our harvesting expertise includes almost all types of grains – wheat, barley, rice, pulses and mustard – that are grown in a big way in India and South-East Asia. We introduced mechanisation to the paddy harvesting. In 1991, when harvesting was still done by hands and sickles, we pioneered the concept of mechanised harvesting, which revolutionised the cost of operation for farmers”.

“Previously, a farmer would have to hire people from villages around to harvest an acre of land, which would take 10-12 people for an entire day,” adds Singh. “But, now, we have a machine that can harvest the same acreage in an hour. And they utilise this enhanced efficiency for farming extensively”.

Experts view that mechanisation is crucial in the context of the growing commercialisation of agriculture. The application of farm machineries is increasing continuously in Indian agriculture, as it contributes to the increase in productivity due to timeliness of operations and increased precision in input application. When compared to industrialised economies, where farm mechanisation has exceeded 90 per cent, India’s farm mechanisation level is still 40-45 per cent.

  • Singh: we are the pioneers

    Singh: we are the pioneers

The adoption of farm mechanisation among the Indian farming community is highly imperative for continuing and sustainable development.

CLAAS is also trying to promote its silage/forage harvesters, which were introduced some four years ago. These harvesters are used for silage-making for providing quality fodder to cattle, resulting in increased milk production.

The company now makes about 100-odd such machines in India and focussing on Punjab, Gujarat and Maharashtra, where large tracks of land are under quality maize. Forage harvesters help chop maize and other crops into small pieces, which is then converted into silage for cattle. 

“Our next area of interest is the forage harvester, which is sold more as a concept,” informs Singh. “We are creating awareness about silage among farmers and see massive potential, as several states have geared up to increase productivity under their food production programme. India is the largest milk producer in the world but our milk productivity is quite low. The silage made from our machines enables farmers to increase cow milk production by 10-15 per cent easily”.

The company is particularly strong in South and East India in combine harvesters. However, there are also products that it has developed for Central India and, more recently, to deal with the issue of stubble burning in North India. It has also added some new products that are made in its German plant.

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