By Fradreck Gorwe
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed entity Cassava Smartech has once again, in its series of platforms, launched the Vaya tractor services to add to its Eco-farmer portfolio. The service was officially launched by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Perrance Shiri.
The new platform will see farmers accessing Vaya tractor services through a mobile phone application. The platform is envisaged to provide farmers with the benefit of access, convenience, efficiency and value for money as part of Cassava’s efforts to complement the Government’s mechanisation drive. Services to be offered entail ploughing, discing, reaping, harvesting, planting, boom spraying, fertiliser spreading, ridging and trailer works.
Government, in need of about 40 000 tractors, currently has a shortfall of about 33 000 tractors and is enrolling the farm mechanization drive to boost productivity and ensure the country regain its breadbasket status in Africa.
Said Minister Shiri: “You are aware that as Government we are seized with programmes to boost agricultural productivity from our land. However, we have a deficit of 33 000 tractors, 10 000 planters and 500 combine harvesters.
The introduction of such a service that is designed to optimally utilise the available equipment complements our efforts to boost productivity in our farms.
“Our role as Government is to facilitate and capacitate the farming community to ensure that our land is fully utilised for us to produce enough to feed the nation and to have excess to export. When that noble objective is achieved, we would have regained our status as the breadbasket of Africa.”
Cassava presently prides itself of over 2 000 Vaya tractors and about 1,4 million Eco-farmers, which numbers are expected to rise.
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“As Eco-farmer we are not saying we are going to provide the remaining 33 000 tractors but we would like to deploy technology to make sure that the few we have are effectively and efficiently deployed,” said Cassava chief executive officer Eddie Chibi in justification of the launch.
“We are aware that ICT now plays a critical role in agriculture. When you look at the agriculture production chain, 37 percent is lost on harvesting, storage and transportation, between production and consumption.
“The world is moving from the physical market to the virtual marketplace. What we would want to do as Eco-farmer is to provide that marketplace digitally to enable farmers to get into the market. We want to use technology to bridge the gap between, researchers, farmers and extension workers.”
Vaya tractor services is testimony to Cassava’s efforts in helping break the digital divide between the rural and urban beneficiaries of its innovations.
The company claims it had become aware of challenges most farmers face which include inadequate water supplies, inadequate farm implements, market price transparency, reduced yields, and equipment under-utilisation.
As such, there is a wish to complement Government efforts through technology driven innovations as the farming season fast approaches and as part of “looking at possibilities to make life easier for communities”.