Tractors for hire at the click of your phone

In Nairobi and other towns in Kenya, a new trend is catching on – the Uber phenomenon. Today, many people who had never used taxis before are dialing their phones for instant access to Uber, a service that guarantees them affordable rates, a comfortable ride, professionalism and security. Even students have not been
left behind. But this ease of doing things is not being experienced only in the towns or limited to Uber. In the rural areas, another trend is catching on – Tinga, a tractor for rent or hire scheme. And it comes complete with its own mobile and web-based application, the Tinga app. For many farmers, getting their land tilled can be a nightmare. Though owning a tractor and its accessories makes
life on the farm easier, it remains a dream for many. Tractors are expensive and for some it makes no sense to own one, since they have small pieces of land. Many resort to contract farming or hiring of equipment. But this, too, has its fair share of challenges. First, where to get a tractor can be a challenge, with not even a single one within miles from one’s farm.
Most farmers then return to the good old hoe, an implement whose time has passed. (According to research about 30 per cent of land in Kenya is tilled using motorised power, 20 per cent animal and 50 per cent human power.) And when you do get a tractor you are likely to be slapped with exorbitant fees, or get a rickety one prone to breakdowns.
You will also most probably get a substandard or poor quality till, unless you have a very keen eye or are experienced in these matters. But things are now taking a turn for the better, with innovative and comprehensive solutions. Just dial, and you do not need to worry about where or who will provide these services.
Alternatively, log into Tinga App or SMS Tinga to 22150 and your problems will be solved. TINGA, East Africa’s largest network of tractors and equipment, created by Impact Lease a subsidiary of Vehicle and Equipment Leasing Limited (Vaell) is an individual and community mechanisation concept that enables farmers to jointly access farm equipment such as tractors, ploughs, planters, combine harvesters and sprayers among others.
Farmers come together either as an NGO, SACCO, Church, Co-operative society or Chama and Tinga provides equipment for farming use at the community level. Farmers can access farm mechanisation services through a Short Message Service (SMS) and mobile based application from which they can choose a host of services ranging from chiselling, ploughing to harvesting. The equipment on Tinga app platform are available in different hubs across the country.
With the Tinga app, you can request for: harrowing, planting, harvesting, spraying, chiseling, ploughing and seeding services and the solution will be delivered right to your doorstep, or simply dial the SMS number and you will be connected to a professional tiller at very competitive prices.
“With Tinga, farmers are able to contact us, book a service or make their own payments. As you register, you are asked about your location, acreage, and the services you require,” says Mr Paul Njeru, the managing director of Vaell “We want to make it easy for farmers so that they do not have to go far looking for tractors, or wait in long queues but can just click on the app and make their bookings. Most farmers are stuck in subsistence farming due to the few tractors available and we want to break this trend,” he adds.
According to the director, the tractors are new and well-maintained and come with well-trained and professional operators.
“To ensure that the company upholds these standards, you can always rate us for the quality of the job done on your farm,” he said. Community tractors But the Tinga app is just the beginning because, with the Impact Leasing initiative, you can also become a tractor owner (though, with other members of your community).
You could co-own the tractor through purchase or lease and have it brought to your community where each registered member can use it at affordable charges. “We are working with communities to make these machines accessible to more farmers,” says Mr Njeru.
“If people get together and say they need a tractor, we bring it. That’s what we did in Namanga
last year in December. They have been getting tractors from Tanzania because there are only two tractors across the whole region, which are consistently booked.” Where land sizes are five to 10 acres, Mr Njeru encourages farmers to get together as a community to get the services.
“A community can be made up of 30 people or more. You can join as church members or a chama. Our target is at least 100 acres and we bring to you a tractor that will be there until the work is done.” When leasing or hiring a tractor which is accompanied by implement desired, a community should be registered as a group and appoint a community leader who will liaise with the company for the equipment and keep track on who the tractor should offer service to.
“We won’t mind if the group also provides an operator. Farmers will then make their requests individually, especially through the community leader or Tinga app, which they will also use to pay for services. Where there is Tinga equipment hub, money can also be paid through pay bill.”
Tinga is encouraging communities to consider owning tractors and has partnered with financial institutions to make this possible. The company also supports the community by hiring idle tractors from those who own tractors in the community.
One of the beneficiaries is a Maasai community in a little village known as Ol ngarua in Namanga, Kajiado County. For this community, Christmas came early last year, when a team from Tinga delivered their first communally operated tractor. The brand-new tractor gleamed in the sunshine, as its driver got ready to give a demonstration to the farmers.
As he revved the engine, you could feel the palpable excitement among the residents. This was a watershed moment for them as the machine was set to change their lives. Gone would be the days of the backbreaking, time-consuming and thankless job of using hoes and animals to till land. In fact, only a few of Namanga people had ever bothered to till the land; not because they are traditionally pastoralists, but simply, because they had no means to do it.
To get a tractor, one had to travel almost 100 kilometres away, only to find it had been fully booked. And before the demonstration was over, some 10 people were lining up for ploughing services. Among them was Reverend Daniel Saita. He has livestock on his 12-acre piece of land, but only recently bowed to pressure from his wife to start cultivating the land.
“Tilling land using a hoe, especially on virgin land is a nightmare,” he told Smart Farmer during the launch. “The land is hard and difficult, while getting anyone to do the job for you is almost impossible,” he says.
However, all the challenges have not deterred this farmer, who now harvests maize for his family’s consumption and no longer needs to buy greens such as sukuma wiki, spinach, mchicha or tomatoes. He has been encouraging his fellow community members to diversify into farming. His piece of land near the Namaga Hills and the seasonal river is very fertile.
With Tinga’s arrival, Rev Saita is excited about being able to put the remaining 10 acres under cultivation using the community tractor. Money from your idle tractor Do you have a good quality tractor that just lies idle after you are through with your ploughing and planting? If so, you are sitting on money, says Mr Njeru.
You can earn more than Sh120,000 a month for about 10 months of the year, he adds. Hiring out tractors to individual farmers and communities is not all that Tinga does.
The company can lease out your tractor on your behalf during periods when you are not using it, ensuring that the tractor is in business all-year round.
“We pay per acre and have different contracts for different types of machines. We want a tractor to be able to take home a net of Sh1,000 per acre for ploughing. For planting and spraying, it will be less. A tractor will normally plough 10 acres a day. Our target is to have it work for 20 days in a month. So, the average will be 12 to 15 days but 20 is the ideal,” he adds. “A farmer should, therefore, earn Sh120,000 a month from a tractor 10 out of 12 months.”

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Nice idea. Please give your contacts. We can talk business. I have two idle machines in Machakos.

    • Hello Simon,

      Thank you for your business in our product. We engage equipment owners through a partnership program that allows them to register their equipment and earn by getting paid for machinery which would have otherwise being laying idle in the shed. Feel free to contact us via farmer@e-tinga.com / 0791496762 . Thanks

    • I do have an Idle tinga in Western that I would like to put to use. This is a great progressive idea that is worthy promoting

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