According to the World Economic Forum, 40% of the world’s landmass is arid and with the climatic changes and rising temperatures more of it will soon turn into desert. Countries like Nigeria find themselves with the daunting task of contending with such biophysical and socioeconomic stresses to ensure food security and livelihoods. Nigeria’s struggle with food insecurity is due to many factors including an increase in population and a reduction in food production, climate change characterised by flooding and drought, and an overall lack of access to knowledge, equipment, funds and technology. This is further worsened by the country’s need to improve youth, rural and women employment and incomes.
If these issues are to be successfully tackled, then the role of the agricultural sector in household and national food security, employment creation, reduction of poverty, and other opportunities therefore needs to be prioritized. For the agriculture sector to fully and sustainably tackle these challenges then Agricultural Mechanization needs to be explored as an option.
AgTech Startup Tractrac MSL uses USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) to connect smallholder farmers to mechanisation with a goal to connect 1,000,000 farmers to mechanization during the next farming season. The Startup which is currently crowdsourcing 4000 tractors uses a unique model to reach farmers using USSD to onboard farmers and connect them to mechanization.
USSD technology is easy to access for smallholder farmers as it does not require computer literacy skills or internet access. A simple basic feature phone can be used to access the USSD code. With a dial to *347*456# rural farmers in Nigeria are able to access mechanization. On the continent, USSD has proven to be efficient in reaching the most remote areas as it has powered payments from M-PESA in Kenya to Bank transfers in Nigeria.
The startup is also currently training booking and hiring agents to aggregate demand and help the farmers with its farm measurement mobile application currently available on the google play store which will help smallholder farmers accurately measure their farmlands, and make more accurate judgements on the use of inputs.
Nigeria currently needs up to 1.5m tractors to be a mechanized country and currently has less than 10,000 functioning tractors. The sector has in the past seen government interventions with the Central Bank of Nigeria constantly injecting capital with little returns. Like many other sectors, mechanization should be private driven as this would encourage more players.
To find out more about what TracTrac MSL is currently doing to increase agricultural mechanization, enhance the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, and tackle food insecurity in Nigeria, please visit their website: www.tractrac.co