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    ujuzikilimo

    By George Munene

    UjuziKilimo is a Kenyan agritech startup that collects and analyses agricultural data geared towards enabling the world's smallholder farmers to improve their productivity and reduce risks through data-driven precision insights.

    This data provides farmers granular information on personalised weather patterns, market information, proper agronomic practices, insurance options, etc. This enables them to practice knowledge-driven agriculture; making smarter decisions such as what crops to plant and exact amounts of inputs to apply, and when to harvest for better profitability.

    Smallholder farmers operate over 70 per cent of Africa's farmland. Despite this, the scope of data application by these 33 million smallholder farms remains largely minuscule. This is despite its obvious benefits in lifting farm yields and earnings.  

    Founded in 2014, some of the services the company offers to farmers include:

    Soil testing  

    Soil tests are conducted through the use of a handheld sensor to quickly and easily measure the pH levels, macronutrients (NPK), electrical conductivity, and organic content of your soil.

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    Through a monthly subscription, farmers get an unlimited number of soil tests, technical support, fertilizer and lime application recommendations. These are relayed as real-time reports and recommendations through SMS. Farmers can also manage all the data on their Farmssuite account.

    Farmsuite 

    This is a cloud repository that stores all your user-specific farming data. Ranging from the basic free plan to the Sh1,615/year Super Farmer bouquet, farmers get services such as unlimited farmer queries through SMS, farm input insurance, market data and linkages, yield estimation, input financing, reports and analytics, satellite-based crop protection recommendations, digital agronomy services, seed and fertiliser recommendations, comprehensive macro and micro soil tests and weekly weather updates.

    Ujuzi Data 

    UjuziKlimo processes millions of data points daily and uses them to create a specific and highly accurate soil and agronomic data pool. Leveraging this agronomic data, farmers can have better insights and tailored high-level analytics reports that refine their decision-making processes.

    The company has earned recognition and accolades from bodies such as the African innovation fund and the royal academy of engineering. 

    In May last year, it received Sh18 million worth of technical funding from Wadson Ventures capital firm. 

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    “Through the US$ 174,000 worth partnership commitment, UjuziKilimo will be able to scale its operations, providing intelligent agronomy information to eligible smallholder farmers affiliated to selected co-operative societies, national and county government agencies. Co-operatives interested in receiving free support should sign up by the UjuziKilimo website,” UjuziKilimo founder and CEO Brian Bosire said. 

    Ujuzi Kilimo

    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Tel: +254 (0) 20 2008408

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    Tractor imports

    By George Munene

    A computer operations supervisor by profession, Peter Musakali has cut a niche for himself within the agriculture space in helping farmers source for and acquire European second-hand tractors and agricultural equipment which are less than half the cost of newly bought tractors. 

    “A new tractor bought from a dealer in Kenya costs about Sh3.5M; this puts mechanised farming out of the reach of most of our farmers. An imported second-hand tractor costs between Sh 1.1 and 1.3M, making it preeminently more affordable to farmers,” he illuminated. 

    According to the Malabo Montpellier Panel in a report titled Mechanised - Transforming Africa's Agriculture Value Chains, despite accounting for 60 per cent of the world total unused arable land and the most favourable climate for farming, Africa is the region with the least mechanised agricultural system in the world... African farmers having ten times fewer mechanised tools per farm area than farmers in other developing regions. Affordability was cited as the main reason for this shortfall.

    Having been in what he describes as his side hustle since 2007, he helps 6-10 farmers acquire their exact pick of Ex-UK tractors every month.

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    Musakali cautions farmers who are looking to acquire tractors from outside the country not to be taken in by good-looking pictures online. “You have to build working relationships and conduct thorough due diligence,” he cautioned. 

    He sits at a unique vantage point to do this; “through established contacts across Europe I have access to sellers and people I've worked with for years who examine the agri-machinery before purchase to verify that everything is in good working order and ascertain that the pictures I have match what is on the ground, explained Peter. 

    At least once every he also visits Europe to collect the references of farmers that may be looking to dispose of their tractors.

    He counsels farmers looking to buy imported tractors need to be cognizant of four categories the tractors come in: 

    1. Standard farm used tractors which he deals with are bought worn but in the exact state, they were in off the assembly line. They have never been ‘opened up’ or repaired. 
    1. Preconditioned tractors. These are tractors that were faulty and have had to be ‘opened up’. They are repaired, repainted, and visibly new. 
    1. Tractor parts are also imported into the country from disparate places before being assembled.
    1. Lastly, there's the farm used tractors.

    Being agricultural equipment, tractors are only charged a 14% VAT and exempt from both customs and excise duty.

    Older tractors also come with generators which were replaced with alternators in the 1990s. While generators can still power the machine, alternators are more efficient and easier to fix. An alternator costs about Sh4,500.

    Peter exclusively deals in John Dear, Ford and Massey Ferguson tractors. These are the trusted brand names farmers seek out.

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    Their manufacture dates range from between 1960 to early 80s. This is also a factor of market demand; “Kenyan farmers are still wedded to ancient tractors--older machines are durable and farmers trust the brand models they grew up seeing till their farms,” he said.

    Most of these tractors he pointed out have been overtaken with time and would not meet current European manufacturing standards. ” Kenyan farmers are however apprehensive about buying semi-automatic tractors or even ones with gear sticks on the steering wheel or to the side. Getting them to move off the ‘tried and tested' is not an easy feat, Peter lamented.”

    With time however he hopes to see a steady march of farmers seeking out more modern tractors; “There was a time you could not get anyone to buy an automatic car, now you would struggle to find one stocked in a showroom,” he said.     

    Peter Musakali: 0722701981/ 0752701981

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    hello tractor

    By George Munene

    The Hello Tractor platform is an innovative tool for tractor owners and farmers that helps track all their tractor(s)’ activities remotely, enabling them to easily manage their fleet. 

    Through the Hello Tractor app, tractor owners can hire out their tractors at a fee. This allows small scale who do not own tractors to book them as agri-mechanization service providers.

    Founded in 2014 by social entrepreneur and CEO Jehiel Oliver, Hello Tractor is an award-winning IoT platform that has been in the Kenyan marketplace for three years but started commercial operations officially in 2019.

    “With 300 farmers already onboarded, the reception thus far has been great. Tractor owners now have a platform that can provide them with data that allows them to manage their tractors. They are also able to earn from providing services to farmers. Farmers for their part have access to affordable mechanization services they can rely on,” said Kelvin Murithi of Volcano Growers, a Hello Tractor Partner.

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    It has enabled small-scale farmers to be able to mechanise their farming; preparing their farms in time with the proper equipment which in turn increases their yield.

    Tractor owners for their part are able to more efficiently manage their fleet which saves them money. 

    For booking agents, there is a commission earned every time they request services on behalf of farmers.

    Once a tractor is fitted with the monitoring device it is then onboarded onto the Hello Tractor App. This application allows the owner to manage their fleet; they get reports on tractor activities, alerts, and indicators on tractor movements, as well as reporting and analytics on tractor and fleet engine hours, working area, and work time. 

    The tractor’s performance is also measured; cumulative work area with accompanying land maps and work time as well as informing on the tractor’s uptime/efficiency. 

    Addedly, a farmer can get booked for ploughing jobs using the Hello Tractor App which supplements their income.

    Other features include an exact update on fuel usage, with alerts in case of a sudden drop in fuel levels. 

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    There's also a tractor immobilization feature that allows the owner to remotely turn off the tractor. They can geofence the tractor to work on specified regions and create an alert that notifies them when the tractor leaves the area. They can then immobilise the tractor if this is not adhered to.

    The tractor owner can even download work reports for a select time period.

    The Hello Tractor device is charged a one-time fee of Sh12,100. The entire bouquet costs Sh 34,100--an annual subscription fee of Sh  22,000 and the device’s fee and its installation.

    It is available in all major towns across Kenya.

    Hello Tractor: 0720402693 

     

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