SDG: Goal 1 – No Poverty
Technology: Crowdsourcing, IoT, Text Messaging
Agricultural in Africa is inefficient because many farmers have only small plots of land: on average 2.3 acres (Schiller, 2015). In Nigeria for example, there are 35 million small farmers of which 80% needs to pay for external (off-farm) labor to help plot the land. The farmers cannot always pay for this labor during high-season and are forced to plant later, leading to inefficient use of the land.
Growth in Africa’s agricultural sector could reduce poverty more than any other sector (Odunowo, 2018). Using a tractor would help plot the land without the need for labor, at a higher speed and a lower cost (Oliver, 2016). However, the income from the plot of land does not yield enough money to pay the upfront investment in a tractor. Access to finance is difficult, hence financing machinery with a loan is not always possible or at very high-interest rates (Oliver, 2015).
Hello Tractor a low-cost tractor which can easily maneuver small lands and prepare the soil for planting. They equipped the tractor with a tracking device such that owners of the tractor can rent out their tractor and monitor its location and efficiency (Schiller, 2015). Farmers and tractor owners are connected with a mobile app. A farmer in need of a tractor sends an SMS, and the Hello Tractor app connects this request with a nearby tractor owner. Note that a tractor owner can put any tractor he has on the app, not only a Hello Tractor tractor. The small farmer pays the owner of the tractor $75 per hectare which is one-third cheaper than the manual labor cost (McColl, 2015). The owner of the farm can make money by renting out its tractor.
Since their launch in 2014 Hello Tractor has helped 22,500 farmers and which faced a 200% yield increase and 40 because of the tractor (Ehui, 2018). If they had to rely on manual labor they would have spent 40 times more time (Oliver, 2015). Hello Tractor has expanded its business from Nigeria to Kenya and started pilots in Tanzania, South Africa, and Senegal (Oliver, 2018).
Ehui, S. (2018, July 2). Why technology will disrupt and transform Africa’s agriculture sector—in a good way. The World Bank, Retrieved from https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/why-technology-will-disrupt-and-transform-africa-agriculture-sector-good-way
McColl, S. (2015, August 5). It’s like Uber for tractors, and it could change the game for African farmers. TakePart, Retrieved from http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/08/05/hello-tractor
Odunowo, O. (2018, July 17). Why Africa needs more agritech entrepreneurs. TechCabal, Retrieved from https://techcabal.com/2018/07/17/why-africa-needs-more-agritech-entrepreneurs/
Oliver, J (2015). Quoted in https://www.fastcompany.com/3048780/an-affordable-smart-tractor-for-african-farmers-and-their-tiny-farms
Oliver, J. (2016). Quoted in http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/08/05/hello-tractor
Oliver, J. (2018). Quoted in https://www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-business/agribusinesses/digital-sharing-economy-cheaper-way-mechanise/
Onalaja, G. (2015, September 16). Hello Tractor’s Jehiel Oliver speaks about “tractors on demand” for Nigerian farmers. TechCabal, Retrieved from https://techcabal.com/2015/09/16/hello-tractors-jehiel-oliver-speaks-about-tractors-on-demand-for-nigerian-farmers/
Schiller, B. (2015, July 21). An affordable smart tractor for African farmers and their tiny farms. FastCompany, Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3048780/an-affordable-smart-tractor-for-african-farmers-and-their-tiny-farms