Status: 05.12.2021 3:12 p.m.
In Kenya, agricultural implements are priceless for many smallholders. They can rent the machines via a smartphone app – based on the principle of the “Uber” taxi service.
Dominic Kimani is in a hurry. He drives his tractor across the street as quickly as possible. He is on the way to a farmer whom he is supposed to plow over his field. The farmer booked it via an app. “We used to stand in front of the shopping malls and wait for someone to come over and rent our tractor,” says Kimani. “With this app, I can now reach customers from all over the area, and it has become a lot easier to find work.”
The tank level is also displayed
Kimani drives across the fields himself. Other rental companies give their tractors to customers. Everything is organized by the “Hello Tractor” app, which has been around in Kenya for four years. “With us you can see where your tractor is at any time,” say the makers of their app. “You can even check how much is left in the tank.”
A development from Africa
The application is now used in 13 African countries. The managing director of “Hello Tractor”, Folu Okunade, is proud that the idea was developed entirely on the continent. “We have two main locations in Nigeria and Kenya. Our developers and our other employees are all from here and are therefore very familiar with the situation,” says Okunade. “Every year only about 15,000 tractors are sold in sub-Saharan Africa. There is therefore a lack of the machines necessary for field work to be able to feed the entire continent.”
A worthwhile investment for farmers
“Hello Tractor” wants to help close the gaps. The application works in a similar way to the taxi app Uber. Farmers can book agricultural machinery and pay a rental fee. 90 percent of this goes to the tractor owner and the company earns ten percent. A special feature, however, is another device that is mounted in the tractor. It costs around 80 euros plus an annual fee.
“It has a GPS and also an international SIM card. The owner can use it to check everything,” explains Okunade. “He can not only see how far his tractor has driven, but also how much it has actually been in use.” This is important to determine the correct rental fee. On average, the farmers pay the equivalent of between 20 and 30 euros. Farmer Emmanuel Kioko says that this is an investment that pays off: “If I plow my field with a tractor, I can harvest around 35 sacks of maize. If I do everything by hand, it’s only ten sacks. That makes a big difference for a small farmer like me. “
Thanks to the app, there is more money left over
With the help of the app, the farmers’ yields are improved. At the same time, tractor owners like Dominic Kimani are making enough to pay off the installments on their vehicles. “This app has helped me a lot. Now I can easily pay my kids’ school fees, pay off my loan and have enough left to maintain the tractor regularly,” says Kimani.
Around 40,000 farmers are now using the app in Kenya alone. “Hello Tractor” hopes for further growth. After all, most of the small farmers in Africa still work their fields without technical aids.
“Hello Tractor” – An app for farmers in Kenya
Antje Diekhans, ARD Nairobi, December 3, 2021 12:28 p.m.