Hey, you can get a tractor without hurting your purse

Friday March 17 2017

Njoki Waruingi, the project manager at Tinga Rental Store.

Njoki Waruingi, the project manager at Tinga Rental Store. PHOTO | COURTESY 

Njoki Waruingi, the project manager at Tinga Rental Store, explains how you can easily access farm machines and why use them

How do you rate the use of machines on farms in Kenya, is it going up? And what are the benefits of mechanisation?

There is increased demand for tractor services, in particular, due to the fact that farmers are investing in commercialised agriculture rather than farming to cater for their food.

Ease of access to farm mechanisation services will increase area of land under cultivation, foster farm power, reduce production costs, increase food productivity, alleviate poverty and boost national economy.

What hampers usage of machinery in the country and what should be done to boost it?

There are several factors, first is accessibility, which is the biggest problem both in terms of cost and availability.

Then there is financial and credit limitations. Most farmers are unable to purchase or maintain farm equipment due to the high costs involved.

Thirdly, there is lack of know-how. Some farmers lack the knowledge required to make proper decision when choosing the right farm implement. Also, there is a shortage of skilled operators.

Lastly, farmers who have invested in the machines fear to lose revenue as the equipment are only needed at a certain time, rendering them idle for the rest of year.

Your firm has come up with the Tinga mobile application. How does it work and what benefits does it bring to the farmer and farming community in general?

Tinga app enables farmers to access a host of services ranging from chiselling, no-till planting, ploughing, harrowing, planting, spraying, harvesting and lawn mowing among others by a click of a button.

The application allows farmers to create an account, indicate their preferred service, location and the size of land to be worked on.

When the request is received, and processed, the tractor is dispatched from the nearest Tinga hub to work on the farm within the allocated time frame.

Farmers end up reducing the cost of accessing tractor services by only paying for the number of acres worked on.

They also receive free regular training on conservation farming and new technologies in agricultural mechanisation such as chiselling and no-till planting among others.

How does leasing as a method of accessing farm machinery work?

Farmers state the service they require like planting, and then get quotation and upon agreement, the equipment is mobilised to the farm.

For Tinga, our mechanisation model enables organisations such as NGOs, churches, Saccos, and chamas to jointly access tractor services at the community level and as members earn discounted services, and regular training on best farming practices.

With the rising fuel prices and cost of ploughing land, what advice do you give farmers on cutting down on expenses in land preparation and crop cultivation as the planting season draws closer?

Farmers should consider hiring tractor services over outright ownership model. Hiring the services helps them to free up capital, access a wide range of farm implements at all times and free tractor operational costs such as fuel, depreciation, repairs and maintenance, among others benefits.

Also, farmers should consider cost-effective and time-saving conservation farming practices such as chiselling and no-till planting.

For instance, a chisel is a very economical way to get deep tillage done quickly. A farmer who uses a chisel plough over a disc plough can save up to Sh1,200 per acre and enjoy other immense benefits associated with chiselling such as reduced fuel costs among other benefits.

What are the must-have farm machinery and equipment for a successful farming undertaking by a prospective farmer?

A tractor because it provides the power and traction required to mechanise agricultural tasks, such as ploughing, harrowing, planting, spraying and harvesting.

Then there is a chisel plough which is used to get deep tillage with limited soil disruption.

Other machines are harrow to break-up lumps of soil and provide a finer finish, planters for placing seeds in the ground, sprayer for pest control, combine harvesters for cutting, threshing and ending up with a clean a grain crop in one operation.

How can farmers protect themselves from farm pests and diseases, some whose pathogens are soil-borne and can be transferred through farming equipment and machinery?

Dirty machinery carries soil, seeds and organic matter spreading contamination to new sites. Regular cleaning creates a major protective barrier to the spread of soil-borne pests and diseases.