Hello Tractor: smart tractors for smallholder farmers
This blog on Takepart describes an interesting technological innovation serving smallholder farmers in Nigeria. For resource-poor farmers, labor shortages often leads to under-cultivation, poor harvests and lost income. Targeted farm mechanization has proven to be an effective solution to these shortages. Despite this, small farmers throughout Africa lack access to tractors to improve farm productivity. The company “Hello Tractor” has designed an innovative, low-cost “Smart Tractor” specifically for small farmers unique needs. Equipped with various attachments, owners can tailor its use for a variety of crops and stages of the production cycle, allowing them to serve their customers throughout the year. The “Smart Tractors” come equipped with data analytics capabilities that allows Hello Tractor to track “Smart Tractor” usage and gather data on location, market trends, and uptake. Hello Tractor also offers Smart Tractor Financing that requires no collateral and has flexible repayment schedules. Hello Tractor has developed low-cost smart tractors that smallholder farmers can either buy or rent along with a driver, via SMS. The company works with service providers who can deliver the tractors when individual farmers text message into the Hello Tractor’s virtual cloud. Hello tractor pings the service provider when a farmer needs tractor service, and the machine is delivered in less than two weeks. The farmer then pays for the service via mobile money, which is a technology pioneered in Kenya but is widely used is sub-saharan Africa. IITA Youth Agripreneurs is partnering with Hello Tractor to train young Agripreneurs in Nigeria on the use of a ‘Smart Tractor’.