The company owns a tractor-mounted combined harvester, which has a very good rental business. Most of the harvesting in the region is done mechanically. With labour costs rising, some level of mechanisation is inevitable. However, there is scarcity of harvesters in the region, which charge a rent of about Rs. 1500 per hour. The company through grant support from NABARD, purchased a tractor mounted combined harvester which has a lower rent of R.1200. This is an activity for which a strong demand already exists. Most members are satisfied with this service that they prefer to wait out a few days so that they get their crops harvested by the company’s harvester than opting for a private one.
The company also facilitates the use of transplanting machines for paddy cultivation. Some farmer groups had received transplanter machines through grants, whose rental service to other members is managed by the company. Transplanters are relatively new to the area. Paddy transplanting is still mostly done by hand, by wage labour. A few years back, private agricultural giants such as Syngenta introduced transplanter rental services, where Syngenta-supplied nursery beds which were planted on a farmer’s field. However, Marutham started the pure transplanter rental services without unnecessarily tying it with supply of paddy nurseries. The rent was also considerably less. This has led to a steady increase in its uptake. In fact, subsequent to Marutham’s push to transplanters, many other private rental services have also begun. The number of transplanters in the region as such has increased.
Deweeding equipment is also rented out. One of the problems with the SRI method is the apparent increase in weeds. Also, hiring labour for manual deweeding is unavailable. As a last resort, many farmers spray liberal doses of synthetic weedicides. Since SRI provides gaps between rows, weeding equipment can go through the field. These activities are also in line with the System of Rice Intensification technique that the company encourages as part of its commitment to sustainable agriculture. By this technique, input costs are greatly reduced and productivity is also increased.