India is a land of diversity and spirituality. From the soaring Himalayan mountain range in the north to the sweeping coastline of the south, India is home to many different topographies, soil cultures and forms of land use. The dominant one, though, is agriculture – after all, the people of India have long been known as skilled farmers and merchants. In this country of over 1.3 billion, which is second only to China in population, over 50 percent of people work in agriculture or related fields. Small-scale and subsistence farmers with less than two hectares of land account for 86.2 percent of the total. With the supply of potential workers so large, labor costs are low, which in turn creates substantial drag on growth in this important and highly promising sector of the economy. Mechanization did not really catch on until just recently, for example.
“With its varied topography, India offers a wealth of opportunities for our specialist areas of forestry, agriculture, horticulture and landscaping,” explains Parind Prabhudesai, Managing Director of ANDREAS STIHL Pvt. Ltd. in India. Unlike in Germany, the United States or Scandinavia, Prabhudesai and his team face the challenge that about a third of all Indians live below the poverty line. With purchasing power so low, low-priced products are in high demand. STIHL offers a number of these, such as the STIHL FS 230 clearing saw and STIHL MS 180 chainsaw. Another new item on the market is the STIHL MH 710 power tiller. Also typical of the Indian market are machines for cultivating and harvesting tea, along with robust demand for combination equipment to meet seasonal demand for different tool attachments. “Government subsidies put these items within reach for small farmers,” Prabhudesai explains.
Name-brand products are sought after, as their ruggedness, durability and good results speak for themselves. On top of that, the Indian government only subsidizes certain products, most of them toward the higher end: “The goal is to make sure every farmer has the right machinery to make a living and do their part to contribute to the overall economy.”