Heifer International says it can end Nigeria’s $20 annual import bill through agricultural mechanisation, working with partners.
The Senior Vice President for Africa, Adesuwa Ifedi, said this at the unveiling of the Pay-As-You-Go tractor by Hello Tractor for agripreneurs, in Abuja, this afternoon.
Through the initiative, Hello Tractor makes tractors available to small-holder farmers in farming communities and allows tractor ownership on credit, with Heifer de-risking the initiative, and allowing the farmers to pay for the machine, while using it.
According to Ifedi, “Feeding 200 million people and a projected 400 million by 2050 is a daunting challenge for Nigeria. $22 billion is spent every year on food importation and as of March 2022, inflation rate accelerated to 15.7%, food inflation rose to 17.20% and food prices jumped more than 20%.
“Heifer believes leveraging technology and modern practices will create a pathway for Nigeria and other African countries to increase productivity and competitiveness of the agricultural sector to curb food insecurity and poverty. More progress can also be achieved with the involvement of the largest group in the population – the youth – in all phases of agriculture.”
She said that with more than 75 years of investing and technically contributing to agricultural transformation programs globally, Heifer International was repositioning its work in Africa to include investment in infrastructure, young social entrepreneurs, and technology to support the continent’s agricultural sector leapfrog.
The Vice president described Hello Tractor as one of many new agritech start-ups emerging across the continent that were finding business opportunities in addressing this and other farming challenges.
In his remarks, the Country Director of Heifer in Nigeria Mr. Rufus Idris said that the nation faced a crisis that could not be ignored.
He said that faced with an ageing farming population, the nation must innovate through agri-tech in order to attract the youth into the sector and that the partnership between his orgainsation and Hello Tractor was doing just that.
According to him, there was a lot of money in agriculture, stressing, “people must always eat. Food remains a basic need and will always be given priority.”
He added that, “Nigeria has what it takes, not only to feed the continent but export food to other parts of the world, through mechanized farming” and that his organization and Hello Tractor have provided the platform to make it a reality.
According to the Country Director, Nigeria could not afford to fail to act in the face of the stark realities created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the two countries said to have been suppliers of about 50 percent of Africa’s wheat imports.
Also speaking, founder and Chief Executive Office of Hello Tractor, Mr. Jehiel Oliver, said that his organisation was seeking innovative ways to generate agribusiness opportunities for young African entrepreneurs in partnership with Heifer International announced a fresh investment of $1 million in the tractor booking platform, to provide loans for tractor purchases—loans that can be repaid from revenues earned by leasing them to local farmers.
He disclosed that the programme, “Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) Tractor Financing for Increased Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria,” already has enabled tractor purchases in the states of Nasarrawa and Enugu, as well as, the Federal Capital Territory.
“These purchases could make tractors accessible to thousands of smallholder farmers via the increasingly popular Hello Tractor leasing platform.
“Sometimes referred to as Uber for tractors, Hello Tractor offers software and tracking devices that allow farmers to book tractor services from local tractor owners via a mobile phone app.”