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Dave Group reinforces partnership with John Deere to transform agriculture industry in SL

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 21 November 2018 00:00


  • Underscores plans to introduce innovative farmingtechnology to improve productivity, production, profitability
  • Suggests local financing schemes important to ensure innovations are well within reach of farmers

By Charumini de Silva

Agricultural equipment specialists Dave Group yesterday outlined their future plans with their technologically superior American tractor brand John Deere set to introduce innovative agriculture methodologies to transform the cultivation industry of Sri Lanka.

The two companies were of the view that it was important for Sri Lanka to mechanise the agriculture sector to improve productivity, production and profitability.

“We are planning to introduce innovations that will help farmers prepare land faster and mechanise sowing, spraying and harvesting. Modern agriculture technologies will empower farming communities to improve productivity and greater yield,” Dave Group Executive Director Minelle Siriwardena told the media yesterday.

Best known for its green and yellow tractors, John Deere has seen a double-digit upward trend in its market share in Sri Lanka and is confident that its brand presence will continue to grow in the coming years as plans are underway to introduce rice planters and combine harvesters in the next year.

John Deere Asia Sales and Marketing Director Jurgen Sieber asserted that a market existence in Asia of over 50 years and a 20-years business partnership with Dave Group in Sri Lanka shows its commitment to the company.

“John Deere is the seventh most innovative company in the world at present, which we are proud of. We are highly committed to our dealer channels because they are the face of the company. The big mission of the company is innovation, quality and commitment. We are very concerned about how we can do ethical business, support farmers and make money,” he added.

Given the rapid decline in manpower involved in the agriculture industry the world over, he said it had now become a major concern to make the equipment productive and affordable. Therefore, he suggested that local financing schemes were important. 

“In Europe and in the US we finance 90% of the equipment. Even a big farmer gets financing. I think that is something which Sri Lanka needs to now focus on, helping the farmers toward mechanisation in the sector,” Sieber said.

John Deere has a history of over 180 years, with 30 factories and offices around the world providing a range of agricultural products.

“The company currently sells about 600 four-wheel tractors per annum and the numbers have seen steady growth over the years. In terms of turnover, we have seen 10% year-on-year growth and we hope to build on that growth trend,” Gave Group Chairman Dave Siriwardena told the Daily FT.

She pointed out that the Group has an extensive range of John Deere agricultural equipment such as two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive tractors, implements, combine harvesters, frontend loaders, sprayers as well as construction equipment excavators and motor graders and forestry machinery.

John Deere Asia (Singapore) Ltd. Sales and Marketing Director Vinayak Vasagade said the farmers of Sri Lanka were now gradually moving towards four-wheel drive innovative tractors which is at 40%, while enjoying an overall market share of 10%. 

Despite having to go through a challenging time during the past five years in convincing financial institutions that tractors were an important commodity in financing, Siriwardena said that they have now collaborated with many banks and non-bank financial institutions to arrange fiscal support for farmers which has enabled these innovations to be well within the reach of cultivators.  With the effects of climate change, she believed that innovative mechanisation would help Sri Lankan farmers effectively adapt and face those challenges in order to make recovery faster. According to her, the Return on Investment (RoI) of this machinery to farmers has been less than one year.

Underlining that a labour shortage in the agriculture sector was a major concern the country was grappling with, Siriwardena said the introduction of innovative agricultural machinery would encourage more farmers to gradually adapt to mechanised cultivation methods.

“This is an issue that needs to be addressed by all stakeholders in the agriculture sector and it is where advanced technological mechanisation can play a vital role in transforming the productivity and profits of farmers,” she added.

Siriwardena also said advancing farmers and teaching them about new technologies would help the company improve its market share in the future. 

“We focus more on the quality aspect than quantity.” Emphasising that after sales service has been a key strength of Dave Group over the years, she noted that they had over 100 dealers countrywide that provided an unbeatable service to customers. 

“In the years to come, we plan to strengthen our partnership and help Sri Lankan farmers in their bid to reach self-sufficiency.”

Dave Group Managing Director Mumtaz Siriwardena said the company had a number of training programs and initiatives to create awareness among dealers and farmers about the new technology to encourage them to use modernised agricultural methods.

In addition to agriculture, construction and forestry machinery, Dave Group also offers gold and turf equipment such as mowers, trailers, fully covered garbage tipping trailers, water bowsers and gully bowsers.

Pix by Lasantha Kumara

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