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Mahindra and Mahindra plans cool comfort for farmers with AC tractors.

Expectations of poor tractor sales notwithstanding, Mahindra & Mahindra, flagship company of the $16.5 billion Mahindra Group, is set to entice the rich farmers with air-conditioned tractors to be unveiled early 2015.

Farmers slogging out on the fields for hours can enjoy the cool comfort of an air-conditioned cabin to be mounted on M&M's newly launched Arjun Novo platform by paying Rs 2.5 lakh extra, said Ravindra Shahane, vice-president, marketing of farm equipment division.

Air-conditioned cabin is not something prevailing in India. Whatever gets imported come fitted in higher capacity tractors. "We don't see a huge demand but while most of the cars now being sold comes fitted with ACs we don't see any reason why AC tractors won't get sold. By January-February we should be able to come out with the AC variant. It would be priced at Rs 2.15 lakh over the price of the main basic tractor. So, if the normal variant sells for Rs 7.8 lakh in West Bengal, the AC variant would cost Rs 9.95 lakhs," Shahane said during the launch of the tractor in Kolkata.

M&M is the largest tractor maker in the country selling 2,60,000 tractors in FY14 giving it a market share of 42%.

"We are already getting enquiries from Punjab and Haryana, he added.

Punjab and Haryana are home to richest farmers of the country, many of whom retro-fit their tractors with ACs from road-side workshops and the numbers are not available with the company, he said.

M&M's experiment in the tractor segment, first by launching an altogether new platform in the 50-60 horse power category and then deciding to fit it with a AC cabin, something not tried before in the organised sector, happens at a time when the tractor sales have slowed.

The industry de-grew 1.2% in the first quarter of FY15, owing to crop damage because of unseasonal rains in some parts of the country in March coupled with deficient monsoon in June.

In the second quarter, the drop was more severe pulling down the combined first half volume by 4% on year. The second half won't be better either.

"After a whopping 20% growth in FY14, the market till now this year has degrown, down by about 4% in the first half. The second half, we feel will at best be flat if not any degrowth. The unseasonal rains in the most of the country impacted sales in the first half while the season is already delayed which might impact sales in the second half as well," Shahane said.

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