News and knowhow for farmers

Tractor ploughing services double farmer earnings, lower production costs 85%

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Having access to farm tractor services by helps Kenyan farmers double their earnings while lowering production costs by 85 per cent.

On average, a typical tractor cultivates 15 acres daily, this goes down to about one acre when using draught animals. For farmers relying on manual labour, about 24 man-hours are needed to work an acre of land. As of 2019, just 12.8 per cent of Kenyan farmers had access to tractors.

Land tilling costs vary across region, terrain, soil type, land state, and farm accessibility. Usually, tractor services charge between Sh3,500 and 2,500 to work an acre of land. In contrast, farmers pay between Sh7200 (Sh300 per person/day) and 12,000 (Sh500 per person/day) when employing manual laborers.

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While a lot of this land labor is provided by the farmers themselves, mechanical land preparation provides 100 per cent of farmers with time to engage in non-farm activities. This generated additional income streams, reduced drudgery as well as provided them with quality family time.

In the report, ‘Effects of farm tractors in four African countries’, tractor use improved land preparation by over 90 per cent as well as agricultural timelines. This, in turn, raised yields for 72 per cent of sampled farmers as it ensured optimal planting, sowing, and harvesting. This greatly enhanced individual and national food security as well as contributed to a reduction in poverty levels.

Further still, 65 per cent of farmers said that tractors use provided a greater opportunity to expand their farmland.

Tracor Leasing

While buying a tractor is well out of reach for most farmers, tractor leasing services offer a cheap route for smallholder farm mechanisation.

Last month, for example, Busia County unveiled new tractors that will subsidize the cost of land ploughing at a rate of Sh2500 per acre. This, the county projects will increase grain production from 2-5 bags per acre to 15-25 bags helping it achieve economic revitalization through agriculture mechanization. 

A similar subsidized tractor ploughing programme is being undertaken by the Kilifi County government, where farmers will be charged just Sh1,750 per acre.

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Platforms such as Hello Tractor are also leveraging smallholder farmers’ need for tractor services through the shared economy model. 

“The Hello Tractor platform enables farmers to request affordable tractor services to plant 40 times faster and 2.5 times cheaper than conventional manual methods. The benefits of tractor services for farmers include: planting on time, 63 per cent average savings, and upwards of 3 times increase in yield, said Priscilla Asonibare, Communications Lead at Hello Tractor.

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