Saturday, September 26, 2020

Indian tractors expected to reduce agricultural costs

The first officially authorized dealers of TAFE in the country were this week optimistic that their offering would go a long in assisting the economy to reduce dependence on minerals. TAFE is known to be a low cost brand that specializes in tractors and farm equipment. A citizen-owned motor dealership, Supa Cars, clinched the deal from the Indian manufacturers to be the country’s sole agents for TAFE products, particularly tractors. Last week saw the motor dealer delivering the first consignment. Managing Director of Supa Cars, Cassim Kowa told The Sunday Standard that their products are both affordable and durable. The tractors, he said, would stimulate interest in the agricultural sector because of the durability and price which he said would be lower by up to 30 percent of the normal low end tractor. The question of quality of the tractor does not arise.

“These are new tractors and they are manufactured from the same plant as Massy Ferguson,” Kowa said. “The only difference is the brand; these tractors can even use the same spares and components as Massy Ferguson.”

He added that despite being Indian brand, the design of the tractors is such that they can withstand the arid environment of Botswana and Africa in general. The engine and gear box are of the tried and tested Massy Ferguson brand. Already the same type is used in South Africa and approved by the farmers there. We are not in the business of dumping rejects in our market.”

He added that there is no reason to doubt the Indian design as the country has proved in the past that it is capable of manufacturing high quality and durable vehicles and their components. For instance, he noted, the country is the manufacturer of the highly revered TaTa motor vehicles, which have proved their worth in industrial use. Even the Mercedes Benz engine is powered by TaTa.

The bringing of low TAFE into the country coincides with the government’s initiative of luring youth into the agricultural sector through the Young Farmers Fund that is administered by the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA). Kowa said the Young Farmers Fund is not necessarily their target.

“My target is even beyond the age limit of 35 as set out by the guidelines of Young Farmers Fund,” Kowa said. He is currently busy canvassing for support from the commercial banks to get them to finance the tractors. He said CEDA is part of his target and he is looking at discussing methodologies of working together.

“It is not like we want to make money now; we seriously want to make a contribution in diversifying the economy. We are looking at other options of packaging our offering. We might even include free consultancy as part of the package and it would also be a social responsibility contribution on our side.”

In a few months, he said, the current showroom would be under construction with the view of expanding it to make it a one stop centre.
“After completion, we will house our agricultural consultants from South Africa who would be working with our farmers here. One of the issues that we might have to look into in the future is that of maximizing the use of irrigation systems,” he said.

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