BusinessDay

RiceAfrika taps harvesters hiring service to address farmers’ challenges

RiceAfrika.com, an agri-tech start-up, has created a platform for Nigerian farmers to order for combined harvests irrespective of their location and interacts with other stakeholders across the entire value chain.

RiceAfrika.com seeks to get small-scale rice and wheat farmers off low productivity while addressing post-harvest challenges. Owing to this, it has necessitated RiceAfrika’s introduction of combined harvesters through its hiring service unit to its service offerings.

To solve numerous challenges of smallholder farmers through shared infrastructure, the platform facilitates interaction between stakeholders in the value chain, and the latest is the introduction of the combined Harvester Hiring Service (HHS).

Ibrahim Maigari Ahmadu, the initiator of RiceAfrika.com, said the HHS is operational in several zones in Nigeria with plans to roll out in Tanzania, Senegal and Madagascar.

He added that the objective is to use technology to improve rice production, harvesting and processing in Africa.

The firm discovered a major difficulty shared by over 90 percent of rural rice farmers in Nigeria, he said, and the challenge is manual crop harvesting.

Read also: Nigeria’s maize farmers strengthen partnership to drive mechanization

“Manual harvesting is a wasteful, time-consuming, expensive, and tedious activity. Harvesting one acre requires about 30 people for over 15 hours. But our harvesters do this in less than an hour,” he explained.

To offset redundancy of rural workforce used in manual harvesting, knowing that mechanization means redundancy of manual labor jobs, the firm trains youths of many rice communities to become harvester operators, mechanics, and booking agents.

Similarly, Ifeoluwa Olatunji, RiceAfrika an agro-tech savvy and country head of the firm in Nigeria, said it had been heart-warming to see rural rice farmers hiring the harvesters and minimizing in-harvest loss and wasted time.

Youth of rice communities, he corroborated, mostly manual laborers on rice farms, were being employed as operators, mechanics, and booking agents.

The firm facilitates the acquisition of harvesters for others and sells harvester spare parts, and offers repair services, in addition to hiring services to boost the farming experiences of farmers.

Ahmadu said farmers that do not have enough money to pay for hiring services could pay with rice or wheat paddies for convenience.

“Interestingly, our harvesters are fitted with IoT devices enabling us to track location, fuel consumption, speed, and control the harvester operations from our office HQ in Lagos,” he added.

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