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India's Largest Tractor Market Records 4% Drop in Sales in FY24

India's largest tractor market faces a substantial 4% decline in sales during FY24, signaling challenges for the rural economy. Adverse weather conditions and uneven monsoons contribute to the downturn, impacting agricultural well-being.

India's Largest Tractor Market Records 4% Drop in Sales in FY24
India's Largest Tractor Market Records 4% Drop in Sales in FY24

The Indian tractor market, the world's largest, has encountered a significant slowdown in the crucial initial nine months of the current fiscal year (FY24). This decline of 4% provides contrast to the previous year's record growth, therefore highlighting the concern of rural economic well-being, often gauged through tractor sales.

Western and southern regions, notably Maharashtra (33% drop), Karnataka (21% drop), and Telangana (36% drop), have borne the brunt of this downturn, marking some of their steepest declines ever observed. Even Madhya Pradesh, the second-largest tractor market, witnessed a 4% decrease.

This unsettling trend can be attributed to several factors, primarily erratic weather conditions influenced by El Niño. Uneven monsoon rains, coupled with insufficient rainfall, have adversely impacted agricultural output and consequently, farm income. This has led to farmers deferring or canceling tractor purchases, further dampening market sentiment. Diminished reservoir levels, down 18% compared to the previous year and 5% below the decadal average, further exacerbate the uncertainty.

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Despite the overall slowdown, Mahindra & Mahindra, a leading tractor manufacturer, has managed to retain its resilience by increasing its market share to 41.8% in Q3FY23. However, the industry as a whole has witnessed a decline in total domestic tractor sales, with 760,000 units sold in the April-January period of FY24 compared to 800,000 units in the same period last year. This decline has translated into stagnant consolidated farm revenues for M&M (Rs 8,600 crore in Q3FY24) and a 4% drop in their farm business profit after tax (Rs 898 crore).

Uneven rainfall patterns have negatively impacted kharif output, with Rabi sowing also progressing sluggishly. Weak Mandi arrivals from the kharif season further point towards a widespread reduction in farm output, compounding the existing economic challenges in rural India.

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Agriculture, accounting for approximately three-fourths of tractor demand, is heavily influenced by farmer sentiment, which is primarily dictated by monsoon patterns and rural income. The residual demand comes from commercial sectors like infrastructure and mining, but with the overall economic terrain experiencing headwinds, the future of tractor sales remains uncertain.

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