Uber-style tractor services are transforming the agricultural sector in Nigeria and Kenya, says World Bank Group expert, Panos Varangis
Speaking at today's Agroinvestment Summit in London, about the opportunities and challenges facing the sector, Varangis said tech-savvy farmers were taking advantage of app-type solutions such as Hello Tractor to plough their fields.
He said, “If you are a small entrepreneur it doesn’t make sense to buy a tractor because it is expensive and most of the time it will sit idle. You only need it for a few hours or few days a year. The best way is to have an Uber-style service for tractors and this is actually happening now in Nigeria and Kenya, and is spreading throughout Africa. The technology enables people to have access to tractors, whereas before it was an impossibility."
Varangis also mentioned that in sub-Saharan Africa, it has the largest level of mobile money account owners, compared to the rest of the world, according to the Findex-database 2017. He said a large number of farmers used their mobile phones to get paid and receive insurance payments as well as pay for solar panels to enhance their quality of life.
"After a certain number of years you own the panel," he continued. "You can have refrigeration in the village and operate water pumps using solar panels, and you don’t need electricity. Technology will bring more and more of these types of solutions.
"There is a large revolution in the digital economy that is happening in Africa and that is creating tremendous opportunities. I think we are just seeing the beginning of it."
He said there were a large number of players involved with leasing agricultural equipment too across Africa, especially in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya.
"The availability of long-term finance for leasing companies so that they can purchase equipment is quite important. There are a couple of interesting schemes, one of which includes international cocoa buyers who want to help cocoa operatives in Cote d'Ivoire to purchase trucks so that they can improve their harvest. The repayment of leasing the trucks is achieved through the delivery of the cocoa to these big buyers," he added.