Deere invests in Nairobi’s Hello Tractor ag-tech company

Deere & Co. has made a minority investment and formalized its relationship with the Nairobi, Kenya-based, ag-tech company Hello Tractor, John Deere’s Moline world headquarters announced Tuesday, Aug. 2.

Hello Tractor was among the first group of tech companies to participate in John Deere’s Startup Collaborator program launched in 2019 to enhance and deepen Deere’s interaction with startup companies whose technology could add value for customers, according to the world’s leading manufacturer of agricultural and turf equipment. 

Hello Tractor’s technology connects tractors owners with smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia through a farm-equipment-sharing app. The app – which is similar to a ride-sharing app and has been referred to as the uber of tractors  – allows farmers to track and manage their fleet, book customers and access financing options. Farmers can monitor a tractor’s movement and the app sends them usage information, for example, location and fuel levels.

“John Deere sees this as an opportunity to support Hello Tractor’s innovative work to provide technologies and solutions to agricultural entrepreneurs in Africa and Asia,” Jason Brantley, director, Ag & Turf Sales & Marketing – Africa and Asia, at John Deere, said in a news release. “Hello Tractor’s work also aligns with the John Deere Strategy and the Ag & Turf Division’s Leap Ambitions to ensure 100% of new Small Ag equipment is connectivity-enabled by 2026.” 

Added Jehiel Oliver, Hello Tractor founder and a social entrepreneur: “The partnership between Hello Tractor and John Deere has been building since our participation in John Deere’s Startup Collaborator program. We look forward to continuing to work together to ultimately help drive better economic outcomes for smallholder farmers.”

Hello Tractor was launched in 2014. Today it has about 25 employees and will continue to operate from its current location in Africa where the award-winning agricultural technology company says it is focused on improving food and income security for smallholder farmers  who had been relying on expensive and often unavailable manual labor. 

Hello Tractor does so, the company said, by connecting tractor owners and smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa through a farm equipment sharing application that “bridges the gap between traditional farming and more technologically advanced approaches”. 

By creating equitable access to tractor services, Hello Tractor said, it has enabled smallholder farmers to earn more and grow more, improving livelihoods and food security for their families and communities. To learn more about Hello Tractor, visit www.hellotractor.com/press. 

Since Deere began its Startup Collaborator program in 2019 it has steadily added companies including these seven new entries for 2022: Burro, Crop.Zone, Four Growers, SeeDevice, Ucropit, ViewAR, and Yard Stick. 

According to John Deere, the year-long program enables Deere and selected startup companies to test innovative technologies with customers and dealers without a more formal business relationship. For example, here are the 2022 additions and what they’re working on:

  • Burro: A company providing people-scale robotic platforms to help farm laborers work more productively today, while laying the base for comprehensive automation of the most labor-intensive on-farm tasks tomorrow.
  • CropZone.com: An electrifying solution available to every grower looking for a sustainable and reliable solution to control weeds and desiccate crops without residue.
  • Four Growers: A company providing robotic harvesting and analytics for high-value crops – starting with greenhouse tomatoes.
  • SeeDevice: A company working to provide enhanced CMOS SWIR image sensing capabilities and performance, using quantum-based photodetector technology for smart devices in automotive, biomedical, and machine vision applications.
  • Ucropit: A company bringing together farmers and companies to create, aggregate and share Crop Stories with verified sustainability traceability.
  • ViewAR: A company with more than 10 years of experience in creating Augmented Reality (AR) business solutions which address many customer pain points and use cases, like indoor navigation and AR for service, and allows them to easily create their own high-quality AR-Apps and start their augmented reality journey.
  • Yard Stick: A company developing low-cost, instant, in situ soil carbon measurement technologies to enable gigaton/year carbon removal via agriculture.

Deere & Company (www.JohnDeere.com) is a world leader in providing advanced products, technology and services for customers whose work is revolutionizing agriculture and construction – those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich and build upon the land to meet the world’s increasing need for food, fuel, shelter and infrastructure.

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