Mumbai-based Aspee sells a range of agriculture sprayers. The company is also involved in various philanthropic activities.
American Spring & Pressing Works Pvt Ltd., popularly known as ASPEE, was established in 1946 by Late Mr. Lallubhai Makanji Patel. The company is engaged in the manufacture of crop protection appliances like agriculture sprayers, dusters and other appliances. The company is headquartered in Malad (West), Mumbai with branches in New Delhi and Kolkata.
The appliances aims at economizing pesticide dose for environmental consideration, reducing drudgery in operation and increasing the efficacy of spray suspensions. The range of products manufactured by the company includes manually operated duster, orchard sprayers, hand compression sprayers, knapsack sprayers, bucket sprayers, nursery sprayers, power operated sprayers, power operated mistblowers / dusters and tractamount sprayers.
Power Operated Sprayers
Mr. Sharad Patel, Managing Director, avers that there has been an increase in demand for power-operated sprayers because of expensive labour, intensive cultivation and also less availability of people to work with pesticide for application in the field. “Need had increased for power operated sprayers to reduce the time of exposure while the work is carried out so that the exposure of pesticide to human being is less and the work is completed promptly. It also helps to control the pest in the initial stages itself before it harms the crop,” he says.
He further adds, “The technology which is being used in India recently is comparable with US and UK to an extent. But people have realized that we are lagging behind technologically. Pesticides are poison and one has to see that it should be used in minimum and effectively, which is yet to be realised by our Indian farmers as they are using more chemicals and fertilizers for obtaining higher yield which has lead to misuse and polluted atmosphere.”
Explaining the usage of dusters Mr. Patel says, “Pesticides in dust form are applied with dusters, while liquid pesticides are applied by sprayers. The use of pesticide in dust form has been greatly reduced as it pollutes the atmosphere. Not only this, in western countries pesticides in dust form has been more or less stopped. In our country also use of dusters (to apply pesticide in dust form) has been reduced. Now-a-days in rare cases in dry areas like deserts where there is water shortage farmers try to use dusters in place of sprayers.”
Talking about his products, he says, “Mistblower is an equipment, which is based on the principle of gaseous energy wherein high wind velocity-air blast is created by a blower and pesticide applied with the help of air blast to the crop. This is the basic principle of mistblower. However, one can apply dust as well as liquid form of pesticides with this equipment. One does not have to go for separate equipments for spraying and dusting as these equipments are nowadays used for application of liquid pesticide. As stated earlier, the dust form of pesticide is very rarely used. Hence most of the mistblowers are used for applying liquid form of pesticide.”
Market for Sprayers
Mr. Patel says the demand for air-assisted sprayers sold under the brand name Aspee Bolo Mistblower by the company has gone up. He however adds, “But people now need modified versions used with tractors. We are selling at present more than 50,000 sprayers of this model but this equipment has some limitations with respect to its operation because just like hand-operated sprayers, in these equipments, too, a man has to move with the sprayer covering only one or two rows at a time. Now farmers are looking for equipments like mist blowers operated by tractor or power tiller that can cover more than 6 to 8 rows at a time. Not only are these types of mistblowers useful for row and field crops but also for orchards and plantations.”
The company has a network of distributors to distribute its products all over India. Mr. Patel says, “The tractamount sprayers, which we have sold until now were based on hydraulic principle with a long boom having number of nozzles. We have sold about 50 of these equipments in a year in complete form but more than 1000 sprayers were indirectly sold by our distributors/dealers at their end by fabricating booms, frames and other attachments.” He explains, “A complete sprayer is very bulky and involves packing and high transportation charges.
[hidepost] Thus we found that it works out cheaper to fabricate frame, booms and purchase local tanks at the distributors end and use key parts manufactured by us. States leading in the usage of tractamount sprayer are Madhya Pradesh followed by Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.”
He further adds, “But in the case of gaseous energy type of sprayer i.e mist blower where air blast is used the accessories cannot be fabricated at the dealers end and has to be purchased from us. Last one year we have sold 50 final version of tractatomout mist blowers. In row crop when one needs to cover 6 to 8 rows at a time there will be need for air sleeve boom type of sprayer, which is more or less on the principle of gaseous energy. These type of sprayers have also been developed by us which are under trial, but when one wants to operate such sprayers one needs a tractor of 60 hp or more but at present in most parts of India 35 to 40 hp tractors are available and hence this will take some time to be adopted by farmers.”
The company is selling its sprayers all over India with a network of more than 150 distributors and more than 1500 dealers. “We practically have somebody all over India to market our products. And in intensive cultivated areas we have more than 20 dealers in one district and there are a number of non-authorized dealers who sell our products during season under our authorized dealers,” avers Mr. Patel.
“We sell about 4 lakh hand operated sprayers and about 1 lakh foot and rocker operated sprayers, 60 thousand power operated mistblower and about 15 thousand hydraulic power operated sprayers annually,” he maintains. Mr. Patel further adds there has been an increase in sale of hand-operated sprayers by about 20-30% while power-operated sprayers by more than 50%.
The company exports its products to Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. “We used to export big quantity to Iran and Iraq but due to the war we lost business since the last 2-3 years,” avers Mr. Patel. “We have 4 manufacturing plants and more than 500 people are working with us,” he adds. According to Mr. Patel, the ratio of domestic and export sales is 90:10. The company has the approval to manufacture equipments with the ISI mark in its entire range of equipments. “We were also the first to get ISO-9000 2000,” says Mr. Patel.
Speaking about the obstacles faced by the company in expanding its business, Mr. Patel laments, “Our main obstacle is the availability of spurious products which are cheaper and poor in performance. But farmers are still not quality conscious. Now with increasing environmental pollution and residual effect on food, fodder and feed awareness about quality and use of pesticides is spreading.
For example grapes used to be exported to European countries by Nasik farmers but they suffered resistance because of residual effect of pesticide left in the produce. So the grape farmers were forced to implement Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and they turned to efficient costly sprayers so that they can spray grapes with pesticide where residual effect is less.”
Mr. Patel further adds, “We have quality control departments and we give after sales service by which we are standing today on our own without importing any technology from outside. Our products are priced higher compared to our competitors who import from China and Taiwan but quality wise we are definitely better.”
The products are priced with the smallest product i.e Aspee Puff Duster costing Rs.35 while the biggest product i.e. Aspee Tractamount Sprayer costing Rs.72,000.
The company is also involved in several social activities – like education and sponsoring projects. “Every year we donate Ram Krishna Mission to sponsor some of their educative project. At the time of disaster like earthquake and Tsunami we have also rendered help through NGOs. Our permanent projects are – schools and colleges. Recently we have also sponsored an L.M. Patel Rotary Eye Hospital,” avers Mr. Patel. The Aspee Foundation is also involved in many activities like junior and senior fellowships for agricultural students for their studies leading to M.Sc.(Agri) and Ph.D (Agri) degree, L.M. Patel Farmer of the Year Award every year and organizing Farmer’s Day.