Heifer International, a global non-profit working to end hunger and poverty through sustainable farming, has released a report highlighting how tens of thousands of smallholder African farmers have seen their livelihoods transformed by a tech-driven mechanisation initiative.  

The report, titled “Mechanisation for Africa: Innovative Financing for Agricultural  Transformation and Youth Job Creation”, examines the role and benefits of agricultural  innovation, mechanisation, and catalytic financing in empowering smallholder farming  communities in Africa while creating new opportunities in agriculture for Africa’s youth  population.

It showcases how Heifer’s support and investment in innovation and youth catalysed the  expansion of an agri-tech initiative to power large scale affordable access to tractors for  smallholder farmers. The resultant increased mechanisation spurred enhanced productivity,  leading to improved livelihoods for smallholding farming communities across the pilot countries in Africa.

“Smallholder farmers are the backbone of Africa’s food systems, accounting for up to 80 per cent of food production in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president of  Africa programmes at Heifer International. “Equipping them with the right tools and resources, including appropriate and sustainable mechanisation, is essential for increased productivity. As this report shows, access to affordable tractors increased incomes of smallholder farmers  by 227 per cent within the beneficiaries’ pool, leading to not just enhanced productivity, but a plethora of critical transformational pathways – increased inclusion, an energised ecosystem, and job creation for Africa’s energetic youth.”

The report reveals that the initiative provided service to 21,048 smallholder farmers in need of mechanisation services in the three pilot countries of Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda, as of December 2022, in partnership with Hello Tractor. A total of 104 farmers became tractor owners through a Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) model. The project also created 368 direct jobs for youth serving as booking agents,  tractor operators and technicians, and 784 indirect jobs across target communities.

The mechanisation initiative is currently being scaled across other countries on the continent. The report can be accessed here.