A blue two-wheeled tractor branches off the Moi South Lake Road away from the Nairobi-Naivasha highway and rattles its way into a nine-acre flower plantation in Naivasha.
As it slithers past six acres of flowering Gingerway and makes its way to another freshly-dug three acres of land in preparation of new flowers, all eight workers at the farm -- two farm managers and six handymen -- watch in awe.
Introduction of the tractor at the farm has been a relief to everyone. The work has been made easy as all ploughing, chiseling and even harrowing to level the ground after chiseling, is done by the machine.
Charles Kamau, the farm manager, recalls days the farm relied on manual labour.
HOW IT OPERATES
“Ploughing with hoes was very tiresome. This piece of land had been overdone and it had become very dry. It was difficult for men to dig deep to get enough soil to make the beds for the flowers. We knew we needed chiseling to raise the level of the soil,” Kamau says.
They knew they needed a machine that would dig deeper to get the right depth of soil to support raised flower beds.
All this would not be achieved by mere hoes. Thus with the help of referrals, the farm hired a tractor from Tinga, a mobile platform that facilitates joint access of farm equipment.
Farmers who use the app request for tractor services that include chiseling, harrowing, ploughing, spraying and planting. They are also allowed choices like lawn mowing and no-till planting.
John Mogire, Tinga’s project manager, says the app exists to avoid exploitation of small-scale farmers by middlemen.
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“Most farmers have in the past used brokers to access tractor services. In the negotiations, the brokers put in their margin which makes the cost of accessing tractor services high. The app does not put in these intermediary costs,” says Mogire.
He says only a handful of farmers are able to own tractors because the machine is expensive.Mogire says to access any particular service, all the farmer has to do is to first download the Tinga app from the appstore on a smartphone. After this, they provide their telephone contact and go on to request for particular services they require.
Once a request is made, Tinga makes contact with the farmer to get details of their request, including their specific location.
The team then engages their branch manager in the farmer’s region. So far, Tinga has about 10 offices across the country serving up to 200 farmers. The app is installed with GPS antennae to collect real-time information in remote areas and to track its usage.
Mogire says the GPS system keeps track of all the clients and the specific services they request for. Tinga charges Sh2,500 for every acre of ploughing or harrowing.