A start-up, Hello Tractor in collaboration with IBM Research scientists will pilot an agriculture digital wallet, and decision-making tool for stakeholders in the agriculture value chain.
The tool, which was unveiled at TechCrunch Start-up Battlefield Africa in Lagos, provides demand and supply visibility for farmers, tractor fleet providers, and banks to give farmers the equipment and technology they need to build a sustainable farm and is backed by technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain.
In its bid to address the rise of food demand, Hello Tractor said it launched a mobile platform to enable farmers to access tractor services on demand. The company uses a gig economy approach to provide tractors to farmers, who would normally not be able to afford them.
On the platform, farmers who sign up are matched with tractor fleet providers from whom they rent tractors for a fee. So far, Hello Tractor has 1,200 tractors on its platform, and has serviced about 250,000 farmers in the past year.
Hello Tractor revealed that it uses a mobile app to aggregate tractor service requests (e.g., ploughing), and then pair them with recommended tractors and operators, while simultaneously tracking how many hours each piece of equipment is in the field and area serviced.
According to Jehiel Oliver, the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Hello Tractor, “through valued relationships with companies like John Deere, we’ve been very successful in increasing mechanisation access in small holder communities. To reach the next level, we need to add additional services including predictive fleet utilisation and maintenance; operator and tractor scoring; financing and the crop yield forecasting”.
In order to achieve this feat, Hello Tractor turned to IBM’s research lab in Nairobi, Kenya. Scientists at the lab are working with HelloTractor’s developers to apply several technologies, including the Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, Blockchain, IoT, and cloud, to bring new services to the app for tractor owners and dealers, farmers and banks.
The new services would be tested in a pilot starting in the first half of 2019.
The Vice President, Emerging Market Solutions and Director, IBM Research, Africa, Dr. Solomon Assefa said IBM would like to transform and impact lives across many industries in Africa.