By Kingsley Jeremiah
Stakeholders have spoken of the need for mechanized farming in Nigeria, emphasizing that the development would improve agricultural productivity and address challenges faced by smallholder farmers.
This came in the wake of international development organization, Heifer International, announcing an additional $3.5 million in funding for its tractor financing initiative in Africa to speed up the pace of agricultural development on the continent.
The announcement followed an investment with Hello Tractor’s innovative Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) Tractor financing for agro-entrepreneurs in Nigeria which stands at about $1 million.
Pushing the firm’s funding for tractor financing in Africa to $4.5 million, President and CEO of Heifer International, Pierre Ferrari noted at the event that increased mechanization – and tractors in particular – is vital as smallholder farmers scale up their production and build profitable and sustainable farming businesses.
“We are particularly impressed by Hello Tractor’s Pay-As-You-Go tractor financing model – an innovation that emerged from the AYuTe Africa Challenge, an agro-tech competition for young entrepreneurs run by Heifer International,” he said.
The organization noted that the investment would increase mechanization of smallholder farmers, promoting increased food security and entrepreneurship across Africa. The additional $3.5 million investment under the Tractors 4 Africa (T4A) project is expected to finance an additional 75 tractors across Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.
The company noted that the investment would provide affordable access to tractor services to 872,250 smallholder farmers at an affordable rate, boosting farm productivity, employment, and food security and farmer livelihoods over the next ten years. The investment will create 6,979 new jobs as booking agents, tractor operators, technicians and tractor owners over 10 years.
“Africa has the lowest number of tractors per farmer globally and as a result, yields per hectare are low. Smallholder farmers do not have access to tractors and that’s something we aim to change. We encourage our partners and the donor community to join Heifer International on this journey,” Ferrari said.
The Tractors 4 Africa project aims to deploy 50,000 tractors servicing more than 90 million smallholder farmers across Africa, improving their incomes, while creating more than 500,000 jobs.