Coming from a home town with a population of nearly 30 million people in a country where three acres is a common farm size —250 acres is getting into the “Big” farm range — it is no wonder Tarang Srivastava was impressed Tuesday with the seemingly endless wheat and canola fields in the Saskatoon area.
“Who owns this land,” he asked, as we made the 30 minute trip from the second annual Ag In Motion farm show near Langham to his hotel in downtown Saskatoon. I said “aside from the bank, it is pretty well all privately owned farmland — if it is growing crops, it is owned by individual farmers.” He was impressed.
This was the first trip for Tarang, North American general manager for the Mumbai, India-based CEAT Specialty Tyres Limited to Canada. He has established a U.S. tire-distribution network for the billion-dollar-plus sales company that markets all types of vehicle tires from quads to mining-truck sizes in more than 100 countries. He’s looking at the opportunities to set up some type of farm/tractor tire distribution system in Canada.
The Ag in Motion (AIM) farm show with more than 300 exhibitors — including many with equipment and machinery that runs on rubber — was his first hand look at the type of tires Canadian farmers are using. He even noticed that some of the Edmonton-based Flaman Sales & Rental equipment was already “wearing” some CEAT tires. Since his company isn’t yet selling anything in Canada he couldn’t figure out how they ended up on machinery at the Saskatoon show.
The mystery will be investigated.
In the meantime, Tarang was checking out the farm show in Saskatchewan and then heading to Toronto later in the week. He was planning to open a Canadian officefor the company this year and since he also is responsible for Europe, likely another in Germany as well.
He says his well-established company isn’t looking to butt heads with the Firestone, and Michelin and Trelleborgs of the premium tire world. But they are able to offer a high quality, long lasting, high performance tire at a moderate price. And they aren’t looking to just kiss and run…they plan to set up a proper sales and service distribution network supplying a full line of farm and tractor tires to Canadian producers.
Tarang travelled some 12,000 km to be at the Ag In Motion show, but he is a reminder of just how small the world is. Walking around the AIM show he said the names of the major equipment companies are the same he would see at farm machinery shows in India. While he isn’t a farm boy — his father was a doctor so he had a very urban up bringing — but before he got into the tire business he was in the ag chemical industry working for Dow AgroSciences in India. There’s familiarity in the ag world no matter where you go.
He asked about crop conditions in Western Canada this year. India had a poor monsoon season last year…it was dry. A dark cloud for India, but the increased demand for pulse crops was the silver lining for Canadian pea, bean and lentil producers in 2016. However, it was a good monsoon season in India this year. While I said it appears the growing season may be edging a bit earlier in Canada with increased potential for heat-loving crops such as corn and soybeans, he says it appears the growing season is moving four to five weeks later in India.
Tarang suggested I make a trip to India. With Mumbai home to about 25 million people — just about the same as in all of Canada — he said it is a whole different world. I don’t know about his suggestion…I try to avoid rush hour on Deerfoot Trail in Calgary. I probably should stay put.
Lee Hart is a field editor with Grainews based in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected]