Technological solutions firm, Cassava Smartech is opening new frontiers on Zimbabwe’s agricultural terrain through its agriculture services platform, EcoFarmer bringing digital solutions to challenges of farm mechanization that have affected productivity since the turn of the millennium, post the land reform exercise.
Agriculture remain a vital cog to Zimbabwe’s economy, but sector inefficiencies owing to manual forms of production have seen most small holders farmers who make the bulk of active farmers, post lower yields.
Zimbabwe requires at least, 40 000 tractors to effectively till its arable land but however falls short at only 7 000 tractors, presenting a 33 000 tractors gap.
It also runs a deficit of 10 000 planters, 500 combine harvesters, responsible authorities say.
But in the last six months, Cassava Smartech, through its ride hailing and agriculture services platforms, Vaya and EcoFarmer respectively, has ran a pilot project that offers a platform for farmers with tractors to register and be able to avail their tractors to farmers without to hire via mobile phones.
Other farm equipment will be included for hire.
Under this Vaya Tractor Value Proposition, Cassava has managed to attract 2 000 tractors on its platform across the country to date.
“We have a gap of about 33 000 (tractors), what does that mean? As EcoFarmer we are not saying we are going to provide the 33 000 tractors but what we would want to do is to deploy technology to ensure that the few we have are effectively made use of,”
“In addition to that we would like to encourage those with capacity to invest in farm equipment to put it on our platforms for efficient deployment,” Cassava CEO, Eddie Chibi said at the launch of the project.
The tractors come with a GPS system to allow surveillance of the tillage in real time.
Furthermore, the project will also see other services being thrown into the fray which include the Vaya logistics platform that will help farmers with logistical arrangements to safeguard the yield post-harvest.
Zimbabwe is estimated to be losing 37 percent of its agricultural yield owing to poor logistical systems, in terms of storage and transportation of grain.
“The introduction of such a service that is designed to optimally utilize the available equipment compliments our efforts to boost productivity in our farms. The launch of the EcoFarmers platform which facilitates digital equipment hire platform is set to transform the agricultural sector through providing access to farm equipment, water delivery and borehole drilling among others,” Land, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister, Perence Shiri said.
Authorities have welcomed the innovation citing the country‘s tremendous gains in mobile penetration to reach out to a total of 1.3 million small holder farmers, 165 000 A1 farmers and 19 000 A2 farmers mainly living in rural parts of the country.
“Cassava is assisting our government with regards to utilities and infrastructure. They are bridging the rural and urban divide through ICTs,” Deputy Minister of ICT, Jenfan Muswere said.
The development dovetails with the government’s newly designed strategy to finance the special grain program (Command Agriculture) which is opening up private sector participation into agriculture to improve mechanization in the sector.
However, the government has been lagging behind on mechanization projects, exposing farmers to yet another possibility of inefficiencies in tillage.
Earlier this year, the government announced it was working on a US$ 60 million agriculture mechanization deal with an Indian firm, International Tractor Limited with the idea of distributing tractors, combine harvesters and various other equipment to local farmers.