Heifer International has made a fresh investment of $3.5 million into its tractor financing initiative, “Tractor for Africa’, which the international development organisation is pushing as part of its commitment to increasing mechanisation of smallholder farmers, promoting food security and entrepreneurship, and fostering agricultural development in the world’s second largest continent by landmass.
The supplementary investment came two weeks after the non-profit global organisation launched the $1 million Hello Tractor Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) tractor financing project for agri-entrepreneurs in Nigeria, raising the organisation’s investment in catalytic funding for tractor financing in Africa to $4.5 million.
Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president, Heifer International Africa, explained that the $4.5 million will provide an additional 75 tractors to the already existing 70 tractors in Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda.
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“Last year we invested $1 million that was needed to leverage the Pay-As-You-Go tractor ownership financing model where we provided 70 tractors for Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya.
This year, we are doing an additional follow up investment as a result of the need and the impact on another initiative we kicked off this year called Tractor for Africa, and we have invested $3.5 million bringing the total investment in tractorisation to $4.5 million,” she disclosed.
Ifedi further emphasised that the ambition of the Tractor for Africa project is to ensure the availability of 50,000 tractors for African farmers between the current period and 2030.
“We are beginning to design the innovative financing mechanism that will allow us to trigger additional investment into this space,” she added.
Speaking at a recent agriculture stakeholder event in Abuja, Pierre Ferrari, president and chief executive officer of Heifer International, expressed concern that Africa has the lowest number of tractors per farmer globally, resulting in low yields per hectare.
Ferrari also noted that smallholder farmers in the world’s second most populated continent, do not have access to tractors, a narrative he assured Heifer International aims to change with the support of its partners and the donor community at large.
The Heifer International CEO further emphasised that increased mechanisation, and tractors in particular, are vital as smallholder farmer’s scale up their production and build profitable and sustainable farming businesses.
In this regard, Ferrari said Heifer International is 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 the global organisation.
He also expressed pleasure at the enthusiasm shown by smallholder farmers, booking agents, tractor operators and tractor owners to transform the agricultural landscape in Nigeria and other African countries.
The total Heifer International investment of $4.5 million, he assured, will provide affordable access to tractor services to 872,250 smallholder farmers at an affordable rate, boosting farm productivity, employment, food security and farmer livelihoods over the next ten years.
In addition, the organisation said the Tractors 4 Africa investment 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. It is also projected to create 6,979 new job opportunities for booking agents, tractor operators, technicians and tractor owners over the next 10 years.
Prior to the latest development, Heifer International, had in 2021, created the AYuTe Africa Challenge, which awards cash grants annually to the most promising young agritech innovators across Africa, extending Heifer International’s goal of helping over six million African farmers to earn a sustainable living income by 2030.