An Evaluation of tractor power to Indian agriculture
Baijal, Prem Narain
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After more than a century of British rule, India gained her independence on August 15, 1947. The Republic of India was formally inaugurated on January 26, 1950. India has an area of 1,281,410 square miles and a population1 of 361 million - the average density of population being 282 per square mile as compared to 750 in England, 426 in Japan and 50 in the United States. The country is riCh in natural resources, but the population is largely poor. According to the latest official figures1 the total area under cultivation is about 307 million acres and an additional area of about 93 million acres is lying uncultivated due to Kans infestation, bad drainage and lack of power and communications. At present the net area sown annually is about 266 million acres, the rest (41 million acres) is left fallow. About seventy percent of the population is engaged in agricultural pursuits, still there is a shortage of food for the population. The present production2 of cereals in India is about 45 million tons, which falls short of the population requirements on a minimum nutritional standard by about 5 million tons. The chief cause of the food shortage in India is that although she gained 82 percent of the population or the undivided subcontinent at the time of partition in 1947, 32 she was given only 65 percent of the wheat growing areas and 68 percent of the rice growing areas. While the population has been increasing, the production of food has not increased proportionately and had been affected by such natural calamities as floods or drought. Also, during the years of foreign rule, India remained in a backward state in agriculture, as well as in other fields. The yield per acre is nearly the lowest in the world. This is the result of unreliability of water supply - only 49 million aeres of cultivated land has controlled irrigation facilities, the rest being dependent on weather, and unscientific and primitive methods of farming. The majority of farmers still use the wooden implements as used by their forefathers. As a result, the production per worker in India. is nearly the lowest in the world. It appears that perhaps power available for agricultural operations has been one of the important limiting factors or agricultural production in India. It has also now been widely recognized that bullock power is not the adequate form of farm power for Indian conditions and as such there has been a great deal of attention towards the introduction of tractors in the last six years. This thesis is written to evaluate the use of tractors as a power unit for India. Before the World War II, large farms owned by landlords, sugar factory estates and government experimental farms were the only farms using tractors. The conditions have since changed and the farmers are showing increased interest in the use of better farm machinery. They are finding then to prepare better seed beds and relieve hard labour, which has resulted in greater yields per acre. In the early postwar period about 250 army machines such as caterpillar bull-dozers and tractors were the first to be adopted by the government for land reclamation work. In 1947, after the partition of the country, an increased interest developed in the use of tractors for agriculture. Also, due to the shortage of food grains, the Indian government faced the vital and immediate problem of making India self-sufficient with regards to food grains. In order to cover the food shortage, the central government of India immediately launched a "Grow more Foodn programme. The reclamation of potentially fertile land lying uncultivated was started by means of large tractors. Also under the influence of publicity, considerable amount of interest was aroused among people in the use of tractors to cultivate as much land as possible. In the last five years the progress in mechanization has been quite rapid, in as much as it has led to the suggestion that tractors can be profitably introduced in Indian Agriculture. The American tractors have made a tremendous contribution in the advancement of America during the last thirty years. These tractors were not used in India to any great extent in the past due to the unavailability of American tractors, service facilities and spare parts. The reason appears to be the lack of attention of American manufacturers where Britain had the monopoly due to political domination. The second world war changed the complete picture due to the increased American manufacturers production. This has eventually compelled them to seek market in India, where tractors are being introduced for agricultural work. Most of the tractors, which are used in North America, are now on sale in India. These tractors have hardly been tested in India with respect to their tractive performance and suitability. This thesis includes a combined report on the tractive performance and power development of tractors, so that they may be successfully appraised as a power unit in India.