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Uber for Tractors is Really a Thing in Developing Countries

By Wayan Vota on May 31, 2017

You’ve probably taken an Uber, Lyft, or Grab Taxi. You may have used AirBnb. You could’ve even used Task Rabbit. I know I have. I’ve taken Uber in India, Kenya, and the Philippines, and found it to be easier and more transparent than taxis in all three countries, and Airbnb is now my go-to for short-term housing from Finland to Myanmar.

This is all part of the “sharing economy,” and regardless if you think its entrepreneurial or exploitative, it is now fully part of development country economies.

The Sharing Economy Has Even Come to Agriculture

Farm machinery is never cheap, and for many smallholder farmers, a simple tractor can be beyond their capacity to own and maintain. That’s where new services are allowing farmers to rent equipment from one another, reducing the cost of ownership and increasing access to needed farm machinery.

Is Uber for Tractors Sustainable?

Many of these efforts only exist through donor funding. And while that’s fine for start-up – in fact its exactly what development organizations should be investing in – can “Uber for tractors” efforts live on past the initial donor darling stage?

Register now for ICTforAg 2017 to join Hedwig Siewertsen of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and  Jason Wendle, of the Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab, for their session, “Uber for Tractors: Mechanization for Smallholder Farmers.”

During their breakout session, they will look at how farm mechanization is crucial to improve farm efficiencies and attract youth to agriculture, and the real challenge – how smallholder farmers can justify large investments with their small acreage and even smaller incomes.

Don’t Stop at Tractors. What About Drones?

Unmanned aerial vehicles are another aspect of farming that could be radically improved through fractional ownership. Drones are certainly expensive and require specialized knowledge to fly, maintain, and most importantly, design and interpret their data.

Register now for ICTforAg 2017 to also experience the breakout session on “The State of Drones for Agricultural Development” with Karis McGill, RTI; Kathryn Clifton, CRS; Abdel Aziz, Development Initiatives; Solomon Elorm Allavi, Syecomp Ghana.

They will look into what UAV imagery analytics are available, who is providing it, what can they tell us, and how farmers can rent drone services for their farms. This session will focus on a practical understanding of the continual issues and opportunities with community acceptance, government regulation, and commercial innovation – where “Uber for drones” could be next year’s big digital development intervention.

Who Will Fund These Ideas?

While Uber for tractors or even drones sounds cool, both will need seed capital to get started, and grow.

Register now for ICTforAg 2017 to join the breakout session “Where are the AgTech Investment Opportunities?” with Sabeen Dhanani, USAID; Christian Merz, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Heather Strachan, Village Capital.

They will explore where venture and impact investors are investing in small holder farmer services, how can innovators best position themselves for funding, and what will success look like for farmers, entrepreneurs, and investors.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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One Comment to “Uber for Tractors is Really a Thing in Developing Countries”

  1. This shall come in handy in helping so many rural farmers in Uganda by 2030