Expensive agricultural equipment can be hired through the mobile application.
A laser-guided land leveller harnesses technology to accurately flatten a field in a fraction of the time used by a traditional oxen-powered scraper.
The result? Farmers save precious groundwater and increase productivity by 10 to 15%.
The hitch? Such hitech levellers cost at least ₹3 lakh, way beyond the reach of the average small farmer.
But a new app that’s being described as “Uber for tractors” offers a solution.
“We want farmers to have affordable access to cutting-edge technology at their doorsteps,” says a senior Agriculture Ministry official. “There are now more than 38,000 custom hiring centres (CHCs) across the country, which rent out 2.5 lakh pieces of farm equipment every year. By the end of the month, we plan to launch a new mobile app to efficiently connect farmers with these CHCs, just like Uber connects you to cabs.”
The CHC app is already open for registrations by the farmers, societies and entrepreneurs who run these centres. So far, almost 26,800 CHCs have registered to offer more than one lakh pieces of equipment for hire.
Once the app is officially launched, farmers who wish to hire equipment can register using their names, addresses and mobile numbers, and then punch in their requirements.
“Say, I need a rotovator with tractor for one acre of land. The app will show me the CHCs which have the equipment available within five, 20 and 50 km of my location, with their rates,” explained the official. “I can then call the CHC or just use the app to book the equipment at a specific time and location, and it will turn up just like an Uber.”
Feedback from both the CHC and the farmers contributes to a rating system, allowing customers to make informed decisions.
The Ministry’s app will also create an invaluable database for policy-makers, who can track the use and cost of equipment. The system would also help to track the usage of new technology that the government wants to promote, such as the Happy Seeder that aims to prevent stubble burning that causes air pollution, or solar dryers that can help farmers process and preserve their produce.
“We have already done very successful demo runs in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab,” said the official.