It was his first time at the market. But, Black entrepreneur Emmanuel Ansah-Amprofi had his biggest shock at the prices of onions and carrots at the local market in the West African nation of Ghana. The unsettling reality is when he learnt that onions and carrots were imported from the Netherlands and Europe to meet the local demand.
Ansah-Amprofi said he decided to use advocacy to change the mindset of the youth and rally them towards agriculture. He hit a snag in that campaign, but, he realized that the cost of foodstuffs on the market is high because of access to farm inputs.
With $60,000 seed capital he won from a farmer’s apprentice challenge organized by oil and gas company, Cosmos, he nurtured his dream of making tractors available to farmers at a cheaper cost.
The Co-founder of Trotro Tractor observed that farmers were struggling to purchase tractors which were selling for $30,000. He explained that Trotro Tractor works on the principle of vehicle hailing service. Farmers are placed in a digital platform where they rent tractors at $25 per an acre and use it for three days.
He said they have expanded the business model and are serving over 65,000 farmers with 3,200 tractors in Benin, Togo, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Ghana.
Ansah-Amprofi added that Trotro Tractor can operate on at least eight to 10 acres of farmlands a day. According to him, the tractor owners also pay $85 and $125 to stay on the digital platform from the monies they glean from the farmers. He said the tractors’ owners keep 90% of the monies they collect from the farmers while Trotro Tractor keeps the 10%.
He said they use GPS services to track the usage of the tractors making it difficult for farmers who rent their services to outwit them. The AgriTech entrepreneur said though funding wasn’t a challenge to them like many startups, one of the hurdles they continue to encounter is internet connectivity in rural settings.
He explained that they are now relying on USSD codes to address the challenge of connectivity and many farmers have bought into their services.
Looking into the future, Ansah Amprofi indicated that, they have plans of working with governments in African countries to commercialize the millions of hectares of arable lands that are fallow.