John Deere partners with ‘Uber of tractors’ startup Hello Tractor to expand its presence to African market
Deer & Co, the world’s leading farm equipment maker, announced today it is teaming up with Hello Tractor, a tractor-hailing agritech startup that help farmers to hail the machines via an app, monitors the vehicles’ movements and transmits usage information such as fuel levels, according to news first reported by Reuters.
As part of the partnership agreement, Deer is outfitting its tractors with startup Hello Tractor’s technology and betting on a future where farmers summon machines with the touch of a button. The aim is to help the U.S. company boost sales of it famous green and yellow John Deere tractors, a tough task in a continent with the world’s highest poverty rate and the least mechanized agricultural sector.
Deere is currently testing the technology – a small black box fitted beneath dashboards – on around 400 tractors in Ghana and Kenya. It told Reuters it plans to roll out the devices across Africa in the second half of this year, offering it to all contractors who buy its equipment on the continent.
Founded in 2014 by Jehiel Oliver and Van Jones, Hello Tractor is an agtech social enterprise startup that focuses on connecting tractor owners and smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa through a farm equipment sharing application. Over the years, the startup has emerged as the leading provider of technology solutions designed for the tractor services market, capturing 75% of private commercial tractor inflows to Nigeria, expanding to a total of 16 markets across the continent as well as reaching well over 500,000 smallholder farmers.
Hello Tractor offers technology for smarter, better maintained, and more profitable tractors now powered by artificial intelligence for better and faster decision making. Hello Tractor also enables farmers to request affordable tractor services, while providing enhanced security to tractor owners through remote asset tracking and virtual monitoring. This value also extends to banks financing tractors and dealers who service them.
Jacques Taylor, who heads John Deere’s sub-Saharan Africa business, said that the continent badly needs more machinery to develop its farming industry but most farmers don’t have the scale to justify a large investment.
“We would like to see that every farmer has access to mechanization,” he told Reuters. “The gap that we’ve identified is, how do we connect small farmers with tractor owners?”