Escorts to offer mechanisatio services to farmers: MD Nikhil Nanda
New Delhi: Farm equipment maker Escorts Ltd is gearing up to expand its agri solutions business offering a full range of mechanisation services to farmers on a single platform, says managing director Nikhil Nanda.
The company has been running pilot projects under Escorts Crops Solutions in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha and is now looking to scale up the business “significantly” in the next five to six years, for which it is open to partnerships. Besides, Escorts is preparing to raise its tractor production capacity to 1.5 lakh units annually in the next 20 months, from the current 82,000 a year.
“The rural markets haven’t seen so much of innovations or disruptions to the extent that should have happened... but they are now poised for the next phase of growth,” Nanda told PTI, explaining the reasons behind Escorts’ move towards setting up a full-scale service platform.
He said the next decade would be an era of opportunity of a complete changeover in rural areas which would bring about a lot of prosperity and gains for farmers.
“The next stage is going to be about getting into that service platform, which we have in a very humble way started, giving the solution in one platform,” Nanda said. He said the company’s approach is focused on crop instead of equipment and has chosen rice for its solutions offering initially. Escorts will provide mechanisation solutions with whatever equipment is required across various stages of cultivation, from ploughing to harvesting, with “input of soft knowledge best for the condition for the soil type to give the farmers the best result”, Nanda added.
In order to offer “a complete solution on services on its platform”, he said, the company is open to partnerships. “We are converging the equipment side of the story, but the platform that we have created will allow partners to come on board with whatever knowledge they can give. As a company, we would like to work with partners,” Nanda said.
Asked about the nature of partnerships, he said it was too early to talk about partners. “As the journey goes, we will have different partners to bring in exact inputs that are required for an exponential growth... Whether we do it through contracts or joint ventures is a matter of details,” Nanda said.
Escorts has been piloting the project for the last four years, he said, adding that it had tied up with the Andhra Pradesh government taking up a few centres. “We have also done some work in Odisha. As we build, we will grow within the state and other states,” he said.
On the core business of tractor manufacturing, Nanda said Escorts is preparing to increase it annual production capacity to 1.5 lakh units within the next 20 months. The company will have additional land of around 22-25 acres available within its existing premises in the next few months after it divested one of its businesses, Escorts Auto Products. “By the next ten months, we are prepared for a capacity of 100,000 units and we will be prepared for an additional 50,000 units without investing into any new land, within the infrastructure and premises of what Escorts already has,” Nanda added.
The company’s current annual production capacity is 82,000 units. Nanda, however, did not comment on the investments that will be required for boosting the production capacity.