Smallholder farmers in Kenya and Africa at large can now plant their crops 40 times faster by using the hello tractor app that connects farmers to tractors.
According to Alliance for Science, an organization that seeks to promote access to scientific innovation as a means for enhancing food security, Africa has eight tractors per 100km2 of arable land compared to the global average of 200 tractors.
The hello tractor app was developed by agricultural economist Jehiel Oliver from the United States of America who left his job as an investment banker to focus on boosting agricultural outputs for small scale farmers in Africa.
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An owner of a tractor for instance can increase his/her income by downloading the app from Google playstore, and then install a monitoring device on the tractor.
For farmers, the app enables them to text a booking agent who schedules and dispatches a nearby tractor to till, transport, harvest or otherwise take care of his plot and others nearby that also need care.
The tractor can handle up to 30 small plots. Hello Tractor connects and maps small farms, collects data on what’s growing where, can deliver fertilizer and other necessities, and even indicates when a tractor needs maintenance.
In this, one tractor can create up to four jobs including technicians, operators and booking agents.
According to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the number of wheeled tractors registered in the country increased from 2,478 units in 2016 to 2,703 units in 2017.
Kenya’s real gross value added in the agricultural sector grew at a decelerated rate of 1.6 per cent from Sh879.6bn in 2016 to Sh893.3bn in 2017. This was occasioned by drought, pests and disease incidence which resulted in reduced crop and livestock production. Maize production declined from 37.8m bags in 2016 to 35.4m bags in 2017 according to the Economic Survey 2018.
Tea and coffee production decreased by 7.0 per cent and 11.5 per cent to 439.8 thousand tonnes and 40.8 thousand tonnes, respectively in 2017. A reduction in cane production resulted in sugarcane deliveries to factories reducing drastically from 7.2m tonnes in 2016 to 4.8m tonnes in 2017.
The volume of horticultural exports increased by 16.4 per cent from 261.2 thousand tonnes in 2016 to 304.1 thousand tonnes in 2017. The volume of marketed milk decreased by 17.4 per cent from 648.2m litres in 2016 to 535.7m litres in 2017.