No-frills Indian tractors find favour with US farmers

April 29th, 2008 - 6:08 pm ICT by admin  

New York, April 29 (IANS) Cheap tractors for the emerging markets devised by engineers at a research facility at Pune in India have found favour with recreational farmers in the US. As a result, almost half of the no-frills tractors manufactured in India by US-based Deere & Co. now find their way overseas, the Fortune magazine reports.

Though known for making heavy-duty farm equipment, Deere, of Illinois, opened the Pune research centre in 2001 as a way to enter the Indian market. Its engineers there developed four basic models - no GPS or airconditioning - but sturdy enough to handle the rigours of commercial farming.

Taking a cue from Indian auto maker Mahindra & Mahindra, Deere transplanted a slightly modified version at $14,400 of its Indian line to the US in 2002. Success came from selling to hobbyist farmers and bargain hunters, who looked for the same qualities as Indian farmers: affordability and manoeuvrability.

“These tractors are like Swiss Army knives. They get used for almost anything: mowing, transporting palates of hay, pushing dirt and moving manure,” Mike Alvin, a product manager at Deere, told Fortune.

A typical buyer of the Indian-made Deere tractor is Jim Henderson, who works as a county executive in Franklin, Kentucky, and gets rid of stress by tending his 57-acre hay farm on weekends.

Brad Wolfe, a corn farmer in Scottsville, Kentucky, overcame scepticism at buying an Indian made tractor but now values his Deere tractor, Fortune reported.

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