Tractor rental puts women in the driving seat

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Tractors can enable big steps forward in smallholder farming. But making that possible requires several partners to pull together. A new Nigerian example is now taking off – with women among the first beneficiaries.

In many settings, access to mechanization can greatly improve smallholders’ productivity. Mechanization is therefore an important pillar of our Agriservices sub-portfolio. In Nigeria, one of our partners in this field is Hello Tractor.

“Smallholders typically can’t afford to buy machinery”, points out our Country Program Manager Isaiah Gabriel. “Fortunately, they don’t need to. Companies such as Hello Tractor have great leasing options as well.” The Syngenta Foundation sees its Farmers’ Hubs as an excellent access point to rented machinery. Hub Managers are ideally placed to help their smallholder customers benefit – and thus the entire local community.

Even rental, however, means expense early in the season. “That can scare off smallholders, who don’t earn any money from their crops until harvest”, explains our Agriservices Manager in Nigeria, Timothy Azakere. “It’s therefore important that they can get affordable loans from reputable sources.” To help get tractor leasing well launched, our team therefore also linked up for loans with Heifer International. This US-based organization is providing innovative financing to enable testing of the rental model.

At a recent event in Kuje, near the capital Abuja, two women were among the first to benefit. Roseline Omoroka and Latifat Ajegbe were delighted with this new opportunity. Roseline, from Abuja, said: "I got to know Hello Tractor through the Syngenta Foundation. I really appreciate what you are doing.” Latifat, from Kano, went a step further: “I am the happiest woman on earth”, she declared. “This is my dream, to acquire a tractor!"

Hello Tractor Country Manager Nneka Enwonwu, in her welcome address, called Pay-As-You-Go tractor financing “an innovation to support smallholder mechanization, food security, and rural entrepreneurship”. She added that her company’s vision is to “transform the agricultural ecosystem in Africa by creating efficiencies that generate inclusive growth, reduce poverty and build stronger and stable economies".

The Kuje event included the signing of a specially designed “Rent-to-own Agreement”. Under this contract, users pay a monthly fee to Hello Tractors. Each vehicle comes with a year’s maintenance offer from the manufacturer, John Deere.