Heifer International on Wednesday announced an additional investment of $3.5 million into its tractor financing initiative in Africa to promote agricultural development on the continent.
Heifer is an international development organisation working to end hunger and poverty globally in a sustainable way by supporting and investing alongside local farmers and their communities
Its President, Mr Pierre Ferrari, made this announcement while interacting with newsmen in Abuja.
According to him, the organisation’s investment in tractor financing in Africa totalled $4.5 million after its $1 million offering to the Hello Tractor initiative in April.
Hello Tractor’s innovative Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) Tractor financing for agri-entrepreneurs was launched on April 28 in Abuja.
Ferrari said that the fund would provide access to tractor services to 872,250 smallholder farmers at an affordable rate.
He said that the effort would also boost farm productivity, employment, food security and farmer livelihoods over the next 10 years.
The investment will also create 6,979 new jobs as booking agents, tractor operators, technicians and tractor owners in the next 10 years.
“Heifer International investments in tractor financing support increased mechanisation of smallholder farmers, promote increased food security and entrepreneurship across Africa.
“The investment is being deployed through Heifer International’s Tractors for Africa project.
“Increased mechanisation and tractors in particular are 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 agritech competition for young entrepreneurs run by Heifer International,’’ he said.
Ferrari said he was impressed with enthusiasm shown by smallholder farmers, booking agents, tractor operators and tractor owners to transform the agricultural landscape in Nigeria and other African countries.
Mrs Adesuwa Ifedi, Heifer’s Africa Programme President, said in 2021, it created AYuTe Africa Challenge which awarded cash grants annually to promising young agritech innovators across Africa.
Ifedi said that AYuTe also supported its goal of helping over six million African farmers earn sustainable living income by 2030.
“The AYuTe Africa Challenge $1 million award enabled Hello Tractor to finance 17 tractors for 17 entrepreneurs in three countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.”
Ifedi said Africa had the lowest number of tractors per farmer globally, adding that, as a result, yields per hectare were low.
“Smallholder farmers do not have access to tractors, and that is something we aim to change.
“We encourage our partners and the donor community to join Heifer International on this journey.
“Heifer International’s Tractors for 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.
“Since 1944, Heifer International has worked with more than 39 million people around the world to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way,’’ she said.
Mrs Randi Hedin, the Board Chairman, said that the board was committed to working on the continent to fulfil the mission of Heifer International.
Hedin said that its aim was to end poverty and hunger, adding that the board would ensure that its mission was achieved.
Chief Operating Officer, Hello Tractor, Mr Folu Okunade, said that the organisation was committed to collaborating with Heifer to support smallholder farmers in the continent.
Okunade said that Hello Tractor was one of the new agritech start-ups emerging across the continent that finds business opportunities in addressing farming challenges.