The total value of China’s agricultural machinery industry reached R484 billion in 2012, and more than 2 million tractors and 1 million harvesters were produced last year, making it the world leader in this field, according to the China Association of Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers. The most popular makes available in South Africa are Foton, YTO and Jinma.
China’s agricultural machinery industry
Foton tractors are imported and distributed by Greenfields Agricultural Holdings of Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal. And it’s had a lot of success with a package deal that includes a tractor, slasher, 4-wheel rake and the B70 mini round-baler. Popular tractors in the range include the 18kW 254 4WD and 33kW 454 4WD.
The Foton combine has been extensively tested in the Free State on 400ha summer and winter crops. Foton is currently testing a new rotary model of similar size and Greenfields will wait to see how this performs before making a decision about including combines in its catalogue.
Back in November 2009, meanwhile, Farmer’s Weekly reported on VB Agri’s attempts to persuade YTO to build a tractor specifically for the Cape’s orchards and vineyards. The YTO 85F tractor is now on the market. Rated at 59kW, it has the power necessary for the operation of modern high-capacity orchard sprayers and mist blowers.
The YTO range
Distributed by VB Agri in SA, YTO tractors range from 18kW to 117kW, in both 4WD and 2WD. All come standard with roll-over protection and a sun roof, or an optional air-conditioned cabin in the 52kW models and upwards.
The Jinma factory in Yangcheng, China, boasts a very impressive manufacturing and assembly line which can produce more than 60 000 units a year. Jinma tractors are imported and distributed by Tractor Warehouse in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng.
They are used by large farms for light jobs such as slashing or pulling trailers because of the low running costs and by smallholders who can’t afford the more expensive established brands.
Testing the local market
Another leading Chinese manufacturer is testing the local market. Founded in 1952, East Wind China (Dongfeng) claims to be the largest manufacturer of small- and medium-size tractors in China. Its range of tractors specifically designed for the SA market is currently being evaluated locally.
This article was originally published in the 05 April 2013 issue of Farmers Weekly.