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Saurashtra farmers are designing their own \'modular, flexible, frugal\' substitutes to branded mini-tractors. These entrepreneurial farmers have designed and developed 10 horse-power (HP) mini-tractors called \'Sanedo’ using a Gravis engine, a Maruti 800 gear box and a Fiat differential with help from Anil Gupta led National Innovation Foundation (NIF). Already 11,000 Senedos have been sold and counting. Farmers sat down with mechanics and designed the farming machine using auto-components that were readily available in the spares market. The Sanedo was a step-ahead from an earlier designed mini-tiller cum sower based on the Royal Enfield Bullet motorbike, said Chetan Patel, project coordinator for the Sanedo from the NIF. Starting from modest means, the equipment gained popularity to take on the Mahindra Yuvraj, a 15 HP mini-tractor. 

The mini-tractor segment ( below 15 HP capacity) has huge potential in India where more than 80 per cent of the landholdings are between two to five acres owned by small and marginal farmers.

Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M), the market leader in the tractors segment, had come up with the first ever branded mini tractor called Yuvraj in 2010. The company launched the product from Gujarat and Maharashtra, and has recently started selling the Yuvraj in Madhya Pradesh as well. M&M sold 11,000 Yuvraj tractors in FY12. "We are aiming to sell anything between 12,000-15,000 Yuvraj tractors this fiscal. We sold 1000 Yuvraj tractors in Gujarat last month", informed Sanjeev Goyle, senior vice president,marketing & applitrac, farm equipment sector, M&M. 

Goyle said that Yuvraj was doing well across Gujarat, but, admitted that in the Saurashtra region local innovators had come up with some \'mix-and-match\' farm machine product.

"We do not see that as a cause of concern to us. It is not a commercial product. India is an entrepreneurial country and people here will continue to innovate. When you create a new segment, it is bound to see some competition", he added.

He did not wish to comment on the Saurashtra region sales, however.

M&M is selling the Yuvraj pan-Gujarat and in adjoining states, and has plans to tap newer markets with its mini-tractor.

But, without a systematic production line, and minus the marketing and sales backbone of a multinational corporation, the Sanedo has been selling on word of mouth. "At least ten units have been sold in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Recently, eight orders have come from Madhya Pradesh. Farmers who visit the region or hear about the product from their peers are placing orders.

In all, around 100 farmers are making Senedos these days, the Chittal village in Amreli only has 35 such entrepreneurs", Patel said. Over 11,000 Sanedo have been sold in the last couple of years.

Where does the Senedo outscore the Yuvraj? For one, it is way cheaper. The Sanedo starts from Rs 65,000 and value-added variants come for Rs 1.6 lakh, while the Yuvraj costs around Rs 2 lakh.

Second, as Patel points out, the Sanedo comes with an adjustable wheel-base; the distance between the two rear wheels can be reduced from 32 inches to 26 inches depending on farming requirement. And third, for light soil regions like Saurashtra, light-weight machines are more suitable. The Sanedo, with a 10 HP engine is much lighter than the 15 HP Yuvraj, which is more suited for heavy soil tilling operations.

The reason behind Sanedo\'s popularity is not only because it is cheaper than the branded product, but it is also more economic than maintaining a pair of bullocks, Patel points out.

"A pair of bullocks now cost around Rs 50,000 and one has to shell out another Rs 30,000-40,000 on feed cost per year, plus a dedicated caretaker. In contrast, a farmer will end up spending around Rs 5,000-6,000 on fuel cost for an entire cotton season which lasts for four-five months a year", he explained.

News Link: http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/farmers-sanedo-up-against-m-m-s-yuvraj-112070702011_1.html