Lucy Onyango, a farmer in Western Kenya has a problem: she needs to prepare her 2 acre plot for planting maize before the rains are forecasted to begin in just a few weeks. But Lucy doesn’t own a tractor, both due to her lack of capital and the fact that it would not be economically viable for a single small-holder farmer to own a tractor, despite the massive time savings and efficiency one would unlock.
Enter Hello Tractor, an innovative technology platform that has created a digital marketplace for agricultural mechanization that enables collaborative consumption of a tractor. Hello Tractor connects tractor owners with excess capacity with farmers who are in need of these services. Community based agents aggregate and book tractor services such as tilling, planting and ploughing on behalf of individual farmers. With Hello Tractor's widespread network of tractors, farmers like Lucy can now easily access tractor services at a fraction of the cost of owning one. This enables her to efficiently prepare her field for the upcoming growing season in time.
But how does Hello Tractor optimize tractor availability for every farmer who needs one?
For that, Hello Tractor turned to Atlas AI, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) company that focuses on solving complex global challenges using machine learning (ML). We use remote-sensing and geospatial technology to build AI-powered predictive analytics and market intelligence solutions such as our Aperture(R) platform for historically underserved regions worldwide. Our mission is to deploy these technologies to enable organizations to decide where to invest in sales, marketing, inclusive growth, and operations improvements.
Over the last year, Atlas AI and Hello Tractor worked together to build a predictive demand model for tractor utilization in Kenya and Nigeria. This model uses machine learning to understand the underlying drivers of demand for tractor services and then predicts where demand will be strongest throughout the year. This has enabled Hello Tractor to proactively recruit tractor owners in places where there is forecasted to be a shortage of tractors, as well as plan where to build and expand their growing network of community-based mechanization hubs.
“Anticipating the future is everything for the smallholder farmer, from being ready to plant fields just in time for rain, to quickly harvesting as soon as the crop is ready. We chose to work with Atlas AI because their expertise in anticipating and monitoring changes in the economy and agricultural activity made them the perfect partner to help make Hello Tractor’s vision a reality.”
- - Innovation and CX Lead at Hello Tractor.
Hello Tractor is known as an innovative and forward-thinking company, using technology to tackle some of the biggest challenges in agriculture today. A perfect example of this is their early vision for using AI to help grow and scale their business. The Hello Tractor team knew there were factors that influence the demand for tractor services, such as weather patterns, crop types, agricultural activity, and socio-economic status in a given area. They also knew that processing and analyzing all of these factors and using them for demand forecasting would require using AI to harness vast amounts of big data and produce a model that could reliably predict tractor demand. This is where Atlas AI came in to help.
Atlas AI's expertise in anticipating and monitoring changes in the economy and agricultural activity made us the perfect partner to help make Hello Tractor’s vision a reality.
Through advanced data analysis and machine learning models, Atlas AI enabled Hello Tractor to unlock valuable insights and make data-driven decisions. By leveraging Atlas AI's Aperture(R) platform, Hello Tractor can use the demand forecast to address key business problems.
“Hello Tractor’s mission to enable every farmer to mechanize farmwork is critically important for addressing food insecurity Atlas AI was founded in 2018 to catalyze precisely this type of operator mission through remote sensing and machine learning analytics. Collaborating with the Hello Tractor team to achieve this outcome is a perfect example of two mission-driven organizations developing market based solutions to drive inclusive growth.”
- KC Love - Solutions Engineering Lead at Atlas AI
For example, accurate forecasting is crucial for Hello Tractor's ability to expand it’s Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) tractor financing program, in which tractor owners are able to access unique and favorable financing terms for tractor ownership through the program, in exchange for committing to hit certain acreage targets. In the past, calculating the acreage targets of tractors relied on previous work, which often led to incorrect projections and missed targets. With Atlas AI's machine learning models predicting acreage demand for tractor services, Hello Tractor can now leverage this in systematic credit underwriting and management. This improvement in forecasting provides valuable insights that guide our decision-making processes, improve performance, and ensure the success of both tractor owners and farmers.
Soon, all tractor owners in Hello Tractor’s platform will have access to the demand forecast, enabling them to log in to the Hello Tractor app and be notified of where demand will be strongest in 1, 3, 6, and 12 months out and use that data to inform where they mobilize their assets. This will help ensure the supply of tractors is always able to meet the demand, resulting in higher utilization rates and more farmers getting access to much needed mechanization services.
Additionally, proprietary and third-party data provided by Atlas AI such as socio-economic data and crop information has played a pivotal role in suitable placement of Hello Tractor’s innovation hubs which are one-stop shops for machinery, maintenance, agri-inputs, and market linkages. Strategic placement of the hubs enriches their production system focus which enables Hello Tractor to leverage digital technology and physical infrastructure to increase acres under management and the number of engagements per acre within the hub territory.
Today, the vision Hello Tractor had of an AI-driven plan to scale has been realized and demand forecasting now plays a pivotal role in Hello Tractor's vision of revolutionizing agriculture. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of where and when demand for tractor services is likely to occur, Hello Tractor can allocate its resources more efficiently, ensuring a seamless supply of tractors to all those who need them. This optimizes revenue allocation for Hello Tractor and provides farmers and communities with the opportunity to enhance their productivity, reduce food insecurity, and improve their livelihoods. Together, Atlas AI and Hello Tractor continue to drive inclusive growth and create a more sustainable future for all.