The return of migrant workers in Bihar has given an impetus to the sale of tractors in the state, with the state recording the highest increase in percentage terms in June in the country . Experts say the migrants are looking at agriculture as an alternate employment opportunity to compensate for loss of jobs during Covid-19.
According to figures released by the Federation of Automobile Dealers Association (FADA) in the last week of July, tractor manufacturing companies registered a growth of 122.54% Year over Year (YoY) sales in Bihar while the sales figure for the entire country was a mere 10.36 per cent.
In June, 4,304 tractors were sold in Bihar –2,370 more as compared to June 2019–which is the highest in the country.
Rajasthan clocked the second highest sales figures by selling 1,505 more tractors as compared to June 2019, while Assam secured third position by selling 1,276 more tractors.
Bihar Agriculture University director RK Sohane, says that buying tractors will help augment their income.
“The sales figures indicate that small farmers are buying tractors, which will help in augmenting their income. During farming season they can deploy their tractors in the agriculture field and earn money and after that they can use it for transportation of sand and bricks,” said Sohane.
Tractor dealers say that they are struggling to meet the demand in August which is generally considered lean for the sale of these farm machines.
The massive rise in tractor sales in Bihar was due to not just the return of migrant workers but also because of a bumper rabi crop in the state, said Jivan Kumar, general manager of Patna-based Ananya Tracto
“Two factors are sparking the sale of tractors in Bihar – return of migrant labourers and bumper Rabi and potato crops in the state. The farmers have become cash rich by getting good prices for their crops. Also, the migrant workers who have returned to Bihar want to get engaged here and they are buying tractors,” he said.
“About 60% of our buyers are first-time customers, who have returned to Bihar and don’t want to return to the place from where they have come in near future, so they are investing in tractors. The three-month moratorium in payment of EMI after purchase of tractors by finance companies is also boosting up the sales,” he said, adding, “August is considered a lean month for sale of tractors, as the agriculture activity stops and a ban on sand lifting also starts. However, we are getting lots of queries for purchase of tractors, but are unable to meet it as supply is less because of lean production in plants,” he said.
According to another person engaged in the business of selling tractors, another reason for the rise in sales is that those who returned to the state could not get any other jobs and thus, they are investing in the purchase of these farm machines which can be used for other commercial activities as well.
“The major reason for rise in sale of tractor is that the migrant labourers who have returned to Bihar are not getting any jobs, so they are buying tractors, which are being used for farming and transportation of sand and bricks. Besides this, the deferment of marriages due to Covid-19 has left the farmers with extra cash in hands so they are investing in buying tractors,” said Kumar Ranjan, proprietor of Maa Shitla tractors in Patna.
State agriculture minister Prem Kumar said that the state government may consider providing incentives to farmers to buy tractors.
“The scenario of agriculture has changed in Bihar with several schemes and incentives by the Centre and state government, so people are buying tractors to increase their income. The government might consider providing incentives to farmers to buy tractors,” he said.