- The move is likely to make thousands of farmers who have been depending on the equipment renter lose out.
- According to the firm’s management, some financiers have pulled out of financing it and therefore it will be hard to sustain the agricultural arm.
East Africa’s farm equipment sharing platform, TingA, has announced that it may be pulling out its agricultural equipment from the market.
The move is likely to make thousands of farmers who have been depending on the equipment renter lose out.
According to the firm’s management, some financiers have pulled out of financing it and therefore it will be hard to sustain the agricultural arm.
Sources privy to the agricultural mechanization revealed that a worldwide cooperative and social investor that had invested at least Sh200 million in the firm is repossessing its tractors.
At least 24 tractors across the country have been withdrawn from the firm at the time of going to the press.
The equipment renter has been renting out farm equipment and implements such as planters and harvesters.
This will likely affect various citizens who directly or indirectly depend on the firm for their livelihood.
Already the renter has let go part of its team as it scales down on the agricultural programs.
The firm said that it will be shifting its focus from owning the agricultural mechanization space with the exception of potato transport and storage following hard economic times and lender aggression.
The firm secured funding from various stakeholders for impact leasing which debt was to be serviced for a period agreed upon by respective stakeholders.
The firm says that these funds were utilized to purchase various farm equipment which was dedicated to various projects in various parts of the country including Hola, Bura, Meru, and Narok where there was limited access to such services and they have not made much to enable them pay off the loans and support the program.
While the move will cause heartache for a mechanization enthusiast, it will give the company space to recover from financial constraints that have been worsening by the current economic situation in the country.
“Due to various challenges we have faced with owning farm equipment we are shifting from owning farming equipment and hence cost of ploughing to increase as we will be now relying on other tractor owners to mechanize farms.
"With this, we will not be able to subsidize our service as before to aid small-scale farmers. This has been occasioned by the fact that we have been unable to get the pricing to support the debt,” said Consolata Wangui the firm’s Agricultural Projects Coordinator.
The firm clarified that other tractor and farm implement owners will continue using their portal and app without any interference.
The firm has a tractor-hailing app and online portal that tractor and other farm implement owners use to reach farmers.
Farmers utilize their platforms to order tractors just like you can order a taxi to enjoy your ride.
TingA joins other ventures that are scaling down and changing their mode of operations due to harsh economic conditions.
Various reports indicate that at least one million Kenyans have lost their jobs or have been put on indefinite unpaid leave as the virus mutates into a major job crisis.
Pundits argue that the numbers could be higher, especially when the informal sector and casual labourers are taken into account.
The regional renter is currently in negotiations with various stakeholders to help them offset the current loans to enable it to keep its mechanization in operations.
The equipment renter says it is remodelling the mechanization program following hostility from some of the lenders who financed the tractors. Most of its focus was to pay off the loans and little to support farmers.
“We initiated this program eight (8) years ago to help farmers increase their harvests through utilization of farm technology and better their living standards.
"The farmers we have reached have appreciated the impact of technology. With the turn of events for sure this will slow down our impact on farmers, however, it will give opportunity to other farmers who own tractors to plug in” added Ms. Consolata.
The firm has been aiding farmers in various parts of the country to mechanize their farms from land preparation, tillage, ploughing, and weeding all the way to harvesting with no manual work involved.
This has led to a 300% harvest increase and a 90% decrease in post-harvest losses.
The firm is currently constructing a potato cold storage facility to shield farmers from post-harvest loses.