Sonalika is among the largest corporate groups of India—a R5,000 crore conglomerate, the group has diverse business interests ranging from tractors, automotive, farm equipment and cars to non-banking finance. International Tractors Ltd (ITL), its subsidiary, is among the top five tractor manufacturers in the country and also one of the largest tractor exporters. LD Mittal, chairman, Sonalika Group, in an interaction with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary at the ongoing India International Trade Fair (IITF) in Delhi, shares how the company has been a pioneer of farm-mechanisation technologies and how it is entering an altogether different field by planning to come up with an SUV. Excerpts:
As far as tractors are concerned, Sonalika remains a north Indian brand …
Yes, we couldn’t capture southern markets as effectively as we have done in the north. But now all that is set to change as we have opened our warehouses in south India and soon you will see a good number of Sonalika tractors in south India as well, although our manufacturing will remain in the north. But it’s wrong to say that we are a north Indian brand. We went global quite some time ago and our tractors are exported to as many as 70 countries.
Although our major presence is in African nations, we are now also entering highly-competitive markets such as Australia and the EU. Recently, the US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC, approved our engines—bearing a testimony to the high quality standards maintained by us—and so we can also enter the US market. Our export growth rate is more than 30%, while our domestic growth rate is 27%.
What about R&D?
Our strongest point is our R&D, which is recognised by the government of India. We are the first tractor company in India to get ISO:14001 certification.
With continuous development in the agriculture sector, there is a need for developing altogether new products, however small they might be …
We have been the pioneers of farm-mechanisation technologies. For instance, we were the first company to invent a potato-planter. At IITF 2012 we have displayed a rotavetor. Now, there are three implements required for the tillage of land—for digging, for grinding soft rocks, for levelling. All three actions have been embedded in this rotavetor. That saves the farmer a lot of time and, in the long run, a lot of money.
You are entering an altogether different field by planning to coming up with an SUV …