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Kenya: The app helping farmers with tractors to plough fields

Peter Mungai, tractor owner   -  
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Tractor owner Peter Mungai has just received a message from a farmer who needs a field ploughing.

The request has arrived via an app called Hello Tractor. Mungai, who owns 4 tractors, points out the location to one of his drivers who is quickly on his way to the farm.

Approximately 60% of the African population depends on agriculture to make a living.

However crop production lags behind the rest of the world. One of the main reasons for this is because most of the work is done manually.

Now, Hello Tractor is playing a significant role in the mechanisation of farming, reducing the manual labour required on farms.

The app connects farmers with tractor owners who can plough their farms for a fee. It means that small scale-farmers don't actually need to buy a tractor.

Samuel Macharia has been using the app for two years and says the ability to quickly hire a tractor driver means he is able to plant before the rainy season.

This is leading to a higher yields. "The reason why we use the Hello Tractor app is because of the advantages it has. The first advantage is that it is fast, which means you can do it before the rain," he says.

"When you call them the work is done quickly, enabling you to plant the crops on time. And the second one has to do with the yield because when you plant on time the produce increases compared to before, when you delayed it. When you start looking for tractors it takes time and then you find it has already rained. You want to plant during the dry season but you are forced to plant after the rain, which decreases the yield."

Their tractors are fitted with tracking devices which allow the tractor owner to monitor the tractor's position at any time and thus calculate the acreage that has been ploughed.

This is essential when it comes to payment. Mungai says his profits have skyrocketed.

"We are making money, double the profit we used to get before we were introduced to Hello Tractor," he says.

In the past farmers would have had to travel to his home to find him.

Hello Tractor was started in 2014 in Nigeria and is now available in 18 countries across Africa and Asia.

Rispa Meliza, head of sales and marketing at Hello Tractor, says it's a win-win situation for both tractor owners and farmers.

"Through the mobile application, not only do farmers get connected to mechanisation services but also tractor owners have the opportunity to monitor the performance of their tractors as their tractors go out to service farmers."

Felix Okech, head of Refugee and Relief operations for the Kenya World Food Programme (WFP) says the success and acceptance of technology like Hello tractor are a big positive for farming in Kenya.

"As more and more farmers embrace technology, the cost of food production will actually go lower, the amount of food produced should increase as we also embrace good practices in post harvest production of food commodities. The challenge of food insecurity in Kenya could actually be addressed."

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