Farmers text for tractors on demand

Hello Tractor
Nigeria (Abuja)

In the least mechanised place on earth, tractors and farming machinery are expensive. This agritech app connects smallholder farmers to tractor owners with a simple SMS so they can cultivate their land.

 

It is estimated that there are only 13 tractors per hectare of arable land in Africa, compared to the global average of 200. Many smallholder farmers can’t afford to buy their own tractor and therefore can’t grow their businesses. The Hello Tractor app gives smallholder farmers access to machinery – simply – which would otherwise be out of reach because of their high cost. This disruptive technology holds the potential to increase agricultural productivity and farmer income for a more secure food system.

The Uber-like platform allows tractor owners to rent them out easily to fellow farmers – while keeping track of usage and maintenance, and preventing fraud or misuse – all via the app. This translates into convenient and affordable tractor services for farmers, as well as additional income for owners.

“Nigeria alone needs 750,000 (more) tractors to be on the global average.” – Jehiel Oliver, Co-Founder, Hello Tractor

It works like car-sharing apps that provide local transportation options to people who don’t own cars or only want short-term use. Tractors are connected to a data cloud and farmers can see where tractors are located, the make and model and performance of each machine, and a calendar of availability for hiring. Other machinery enables farmers to carry out timely operations such as harrowing, tilling, planting and harvesting. A Hello Tractor lets them plant 40 times faster and at one-third of the cost.

Traditionally, the hiring of tractors has occurred through word of mouth and poorly coordinated referrals: a friend of a friend knows a farmer in need of plowing and sends them to a tractor owner, cooperative or hiring association.

Because of this booking app, tractors can now be easily deployed to farmers. In addition, the app informs farmers of likely weather conditions. This goes a long way towards preventing crop loss and other wastage.

The monitoring is done with a small black box fitted beneath the dashboard of every tractor registered with Hello Tractor. Each monitoring device is fitted with GPS and an international SIM card for broad coverage, but can store activity data locally if no connection exists. Once the device is in place, it can transfer data to Hello Tractor’s mobile applications, where it is displayed in a user-friendly format.

Tractor owners have full visibility into tractor location, route traveled, activities performed, fuel consumed, and even maintenance requirements and operator performance. The device also detects damages as soon as they occur. Hello Tractors also offer trained technicians to support the tractor owners in fitting devices on their machines.

Jehiel Oliver is the co-founder of this Nigeria-based agritech startup that wants to bring to life a future where farmers summon any machine of their choice at the touch of a button from wherever they are.  “Hello Tractor’s solution creates equitable access to tractor services for smallholder farmers,” he says, “allowing them to be more productive on the farm, earn more and improve their livelihoods.” This is Oliver’s story:

AtlasAction: Download the app on Google Play, request for service or become a booking agent.

Written by

Lisa Goldapple, Editor, Atlas of the Future (29 January 2021)

Project leader

Jehiel Oliver and Van Jones, Founders

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