With the digital revolution quickly transforming every major sector of the global economy, it is no surprise the magnitude of impact this revolution is having in the world of agriculture. Today, we see sophisticated technologies such as temperature and moisture sensors, robots, GPS technology, precision agriculture, amongst others being used to enhance the productivity and profitability of farmers across continents, as well as keep expensive assets, such as tractors, safe while they work on the field, usually very far away from their owner’s line of sight.
Taking a close look at mechanization specifically, so much is being done, technology wise, to ensure that we are headed toward a secure food system even as our global population continues to skyrocket. Companies such as Zenvus, Tro-Tro, Kitovu, ThriveAgric & Farmcrowdy are all enabling the success of mechanization one way or another through their offerings which are largely targeted at smallholder farmers. At Hello Tractor, for instance, we use technologies such as IoT, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence to power our farm equipment sharing application that connects tractor owners and smallholder farmers in emerging markets. Our solution not only grants tractor owners the ability to track their tractor and expand their tractors’ serviceable geography to grow their businesses, but also creates equitable access to tractor services for smallholder farmers, allowing them to be more productive on the farm, earn more and improve their livelihoods.
As much as we have been successful in capturing 80% of all commercial tractor sales in Nigeria and scaling up our business into new markets across Africa and Asia, we are constantly thinking through ways by which we can make our technology offering more robust and relevant for the agriculture sector even as it continues to evolve. We recently partnered with IBM to pilot an advanced analytics tool that is envisioned to enable financial institutions to be more involved in investing in agriculture as that is one of the major challenges we identified to be limiting the ample supply of tractors across most emerging markets. By doing this, we are adding value to the ecosystem and enabling the sustainability of mechanized agriculture which is a very important factor that companies creating new technologies for mechanization need to keep in mind if the world is going to be able to feed itself by 2050.
Asides from the limited availability of machinery which poses a challenge to mechanized farming across emerging markets, there are other challenges that need to be tackled to ensure that modern tools being rolled into the market have maximum impact. Amongst such challenges include; smallholder farmers education and technology adoption, a lack of supportive policies that facilitate mechanization, as well as the high cost of services due to a lack of proper route planning.
With the involvement of digital technology, the future of agricultural mechanization seems quite promising. Farmers having access to quality information and tools that make farming easier means more money in their pockets and more food produced in a sustainable way. Contractors having access to critical data that allows them to make informed decisions means more profits and faster growing businesses. However, the challenges impeding the maximum impactfulness of these new technologies must first be addressed to allow for the most productive farming future.