EcoFarmer, Vaya business units team up to support tobacco farmers

Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe’s agricultural technology unit EcoFarmer, and its on-demand business unit VAYA Logistics, have combined forces to help tobacco farmers transport their crop to the auction floors.

This year’s tobacco marketing season officially opened yesterday and farmers are expected to deliver more than 200 million kilogrammes of the golden leaf following a good 2020/21 farming season.

To ensure farmers do not experience difficulties in transporting their crop, Cassava Smartech has this season chipped-in with a solution that gives farmers convenience and peace of mind.

Givemore Jojo, Cassava’s chief commercial officer, said the buzz of activity created by the opening of the country’s tobacco selling season should be accompanied by an organised transportation system, which allows farmers to reap the benefits of their labour without any hassle.

“The collaboration of EcoFarmer and VAYA Logistics ensures that farmers get access to affordable and reliable transportation for their tobacco bales. This partnership aims to ensure an efficient transport solution for tobacco farmers in order for them to meet delivery deadlines at the auction floors,” he said.

Jojo said the availability of over 2 500 trucks of different sizes on the VAYA platform allowed farmers across different regions to transport their tobacco crop from anywhere in the country without any problem.

By simply dialling 144, farmers can make their transportation requests and schedule bookings with EcoFarmer.

“Partnerships of this nature will reduce the cost of transporting tobacco bales for farmers and ensure they maximise their return for every dollar. This service gives farmers peace of mind knowing that their tobacco crop will be securely picked up and delivered on time to the auction floors,” he said.

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) has indicated that this year’s selling season will follow strict guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Under new guidelines, auction floors will only accept tobacco deliveries between 6am and 5pm, with only one farmer allowed to attend the auction per delivery.

“A maximum of only two people are allowed on-board the tobacco delivery trucks (driver and assistant),” TIMB said.

Tobacco has over the past decade emerged as Zimbabwe’s number one cash crop, earning the country over US$600 million in export revenues annually.

Since the beginning of the current farming season, EcoFarmer and VAYA have been instrumental in helping farmers get the right equipment.

For instance, VAYA Tractor helped farmers deploy mechanised technology by ordering tractors through the VAYA Africa mobile platform.

This follows the aggregation of farm equipment on the VAYA digital platform, which enables farmers to request for the service via their mobile phones.

The platform matches a request with the nearest available equipment, which is then immediately deployed.

Jojo said Cassava was leveraging technology to offer digital farming solutions to farmers, the government, non-governmental organisations, farmers’ unions and other critical stakeholders in the agriculture value chain to improve productivity and transform the lives of millions of Zimbabweans.

“There is an urgent need to create a new business model that encompasses agribusiness and information and communication technologies if smallholder farmers are to reduce rural poverty and generate inclusive growth,” he said.

Research shows that the use of technology is creating efficiencies for farmers across the world and at the same time boosting productivity.

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