Abuja, Nigeria – May 10, 2023 – Africa’s Agricultural sector holds the key to addressing the rising poverty status of households, food security challenges, and reducing the increasing rate of unemployment in the continent, especially among the teeming population of youth. However, a major barrier to the growth and development of the sector is the lingering poor access to mechanization particularly by smallholder farmers who are responsible for producing an estimated 80% of food grown in Africa. As farmers expand their businesses and supply larger quantities to bigger markets, they need mechanization to grow their production.
Heifer International, a global nonprofit working to eradicate poverty and hunger is committed to sustainably addressing these challenges while supporting farmers with agri-tech linkages to help them achieve sustainable living income.
Heifer International has invested over $4.5 million USD in the tractor equipment marketplace, Hello Tractor, to provide loans for tractor purchases—loans that can be repaid from revenues earned by leasing them to local farmers.
The shortage of farm machinery is a well-known problem in Africa. Founded in Abuja, Nigeria and operating in 15 African countries as well as in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Guatemala and Jamaica, Hello Tractor is an agri-tech company that fosters cooperation between farmers and equipment owners. Hello Tractor works like the ride-hailing service, Uber, using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to connect tractor owners to smallholder farmers needing tractor services. The company’s inexpensive tracking device and software allow farmers and tractor owners to book connected tractors from their phones. Currently serving over 800,000 small farmers across Africa, Hello Tractor’s technology is successfully unlocking investment to create and drive the tractor market for smallholder farmers.
Women smallholder farmers receiving tractor services on their farm
Funding received from Heifer International has helped Hello Tractor intensify its Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) tractor financing for agri-preneurs and has also served as a pathway to attracting more funding from industry giants like John Deere. Hello Tractor is now pushing its innovative PAYG solution further by establishing Mechanization Hubs in farm clusters across Africa. The Mechanization Hub will offer tractor servicing and repair, access to quality spare parts, tractor implements rental services, demand aggregation for tractor services, technical training for tractor operators, and dealer certification of local technicians. The commissioning of the first of such Mechanization Hubs is billed for Thursday, 11th of May 2023 at Gunki, Nassarawa State, Nigeria. By launching the Mechanization Hub, Hello Tractor hopes to strengthen the mechanization ecosystem and deliver benefits such as repaired and serviced tractors, implement rentals, farmers served by mechanized service, upskilled tractor operators, certified local technicians, and sale of quality spare parts.
The occasion of the Hub commissioning will also serve as an opportunity to hand over more tractors to new beneficiaries of the Heifer-supported PAYG tractor financing scheme.
According to Mr Rufus Idris, Nigeria Country Director of Heifer International, “At Heifer International, we are rethinking mechanization by collaborating with partners to implement transformative projects that target smallholder farmers, providing affordable linkages to innovative mechanization that will guarantee an increase in yields and improved livelihoods”.
“Through the PAYG tractor financing for agri-preneurs, forty-nine (49) tractors so far have been handed over to participants in Nigeria while 3 (three) additional tractors will be handed over to new recipients today. The handover of additional tractors today has demonstrated Heifer’s Passing-on-the-Gift (PoG) cornerstone as the funds realised from the initial recipients of tractors under the PAYG tractor financing scheme has now re-financed additional 3 tractors for new participants,” says Idris.
Deployed through Heifer International’s Tractors 4 Africa project, Heifer International’s investments in tractor financing schemes are aimed at increasing the mechanization of smallholder farmers and promoting increased food security and entrepreneurship across Africa.
Dr. Nneka Enwonwu, the Country Manager of Hello Tractor Nigeria, expressed her utmost excitement about the inauguration of the mechanization hub and the enormous benefits it brings to all stakeholders. She stated, “We are thrilled to unveil our groundbreaking mechanization hub in Nasarawa, a remarkable milestone in our relentless pursuit of transforming agriculture across Nigeria. This facility will be a game-changer, providing a catalyst for progress and development in the agricultural ecosystem. With this Mechanization Hub, we are enabling our valued tractor owners to optimize their machinery and generate increased revenue while supporting the economic empowerment of local communities. Simultaneously, we are equipping smallholder farmers with easy access to mechanisation services, empowering them to boost their agricultural output and improve their livelihoods.”
The Mechanization Hub launch and Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) Tractor Handover event will create a unique platform for critical stakeholders to network and participate in an event that is aimed at empowering agri-preneurs who will support smallholder farmers, improve economic growth, and position agriculture as the job for the future.
About Heifer International
Since 1944, Heifer International has worked with more than 39 million people around the world to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way. Working with rural communities across Africa for 47 years, Heifer International supports farmers and local food producers to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that provide a living income. For information, visit https://www.heifer.org
About Hello Tractor
Rapid urbanization, aging farmer populations and the drudgery of farm work have depleted rural labor supply and left viable farmland idle. Mechanization helps farmers plant 40 times faster at one-third of the cost, yet tractors often sit idle because there’s no market to serve smallholders. Hello Tractor works like Uber to get tractor services to smallholder farmers. Their inexpensive tracking device and software allow tractor owners to track their tractors and farmers to book connected tractors from their phones. Farmers get a critical service formerly unavailable to them, and owners see a fleet optimization opportunity that also minimizes fuel theft and fraud. Currently serving over 800,000 small farmers across Africa with over 3,000 tractors and combine owners, Hello Tractor’s technology is successfully unlocking investment to create and drive the tractor market for smallholder farmers. For more information, visit https://www.hellotractor.com