Spread­ing these sto­ries is the first step to­wards change

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com­pleted, the pre­pay­ment is au­to­mat­i­cally re­leased to the smart trac­tor owner.”

Since it was launched in mid-2014, farm­ers who par­tic­i­pated in the beta pe­riod have re­port­edly seen their yields in­crease by 200% us­ing a ma­chine that’s 40 times faster than man­ual labour.

“We have de­signed an in­no­va­tive, low-cost ‘smart trac­tor’ specif­i­cally for small farm­ers’ unique needs,” re­marks Oliver.

“The smart trac­tor is a two-wheeled trac­tor with GPS an­ten­nae that allows us to track its usage and telem­at­ics, which col­lects and trans­fers data in noin­t­er­net ar­eas such as the ru­ral ar­eas,” Oliver adds.

Ac­cord­ing to Oliver, each trac­tor on the plat­form works on ap­prox­i­mately 250 hectares of farm­land an­nu­ally, which is sub­stan­tial in Nige­ria where farm­ers own, on av­er­age, just over one hectare of land.

With one of the fastest grow­ing pop­u­la­tions in the world, and huge pres­sure on the em­ploy­ment market to pro­vide new jobs, op­ti­mis­ing Nige­ria’s agri­cul­tural in­dus­try is key to com­bat­ing youth un­em­ploy­ment for the next gen­er­a­tion.

“De­spite the prof­itabil­ity of agri­cul­ture in Nige­ria, there re­mains a sub­stan­tial risk (both real and per­ceived) pre­vent­ing banks to en­gage more deeply,” says Oliver.

To ad­dress this is­sue, Hello Trac­tor also co­or­di­nates low-cost fi­nanc­ing to help fa­cil­i­tate the pur­chase of a smart trac­tor.

“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 GPS an­tenna allows Hello Trac­tor to track its usage and gather data on lo­ca­tion, market trends, and up­take,” Oliver ex­plained.

“At the beta phase we’re pri­ori­tis­ing land preparation be­cause, first of all, it’s the first stage of pro­duc­tion,” Oliver said. “It’s also the most labour in­ten­sive. It takes about 40 days of man­ual labour to prepare the land. Our trac­tors do it in eight hours.”

On the im­pact so far, Oliver told The Nation that “Farm­ers are re­port­ing that hav­ing ac­cess to trac­tor ser­vices saves them money on land preparation while re­mov­ing the labour con­straints that have pre­vented them from plant­ing the land that they have ac­cess to.”

Hello Trac­tor was launched as a pi­lot project in Kenya this year. Oliver be­lieves the re­sults there should be as promis­ing as in Nige­ria.


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