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India launches Uber-like app for farm equipment

The Indian government has launched an Uber-like app for renting farm equipment.

The so-called Custom Hiring Centers (CHC) Farm Machinery app was launched by the Indian agriculture & farmers welfare minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

The move comes after many farmers have written to the government that most agriculture equipment is too expensive for them too buy.

Rent high-end agricultural equipment

The new mobile application will now allow farmers to rent high-end agricultural equipment. Using the app, any farmer can for instance rent a laser-guided land leveler which costs around USD $ 4000 (INR 300,000). These levelers are used to accurately flatten a field in a fraction of the time as compared to the traditional method, where oxen are used to pull a scraper. Using a leveler farmers can increase their productivity by 10 to 15%.

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Indian farmer ploughing a field with his tractor near the banks of the Yamuna river in New Delhi. For many farmers in India equipment is too expensive to buy. - Photo: AFP
Indian farmer ploughing a field with his tractor near the banks of the Yamuna river in New Delhi. For many farmers in India equipment is too expensive to buy. - Photo: AFP

Speaking on this, Tomar said that with the CHC Farm Machinery App farmers can select and order the required machinery “at rates feasible for them” from the Custom Hiring Centers located in a radius of up to 50 kilometers.

A senior agricultural official said that the application will help farmers get affordable access to cutting-edge technology at their doorsteps.

More than 38,000 custom hiring centers

There are now more than 38,000 custom hiring centers (CHCs) across the country, which have all been connected with this mobile application and farmers can use this app to connect with these CHCs, just like users connect with Uber or OLA cab services. These CHCs currently rent out 250,000 pieces of farm equipment every year.

The CHC app is already open for registrations by the farmers, societies and entrepreneurs who run these centers. So far, almost 26,800 CHCs have registered to offer more than 100,000 pieces of equipment for hire.

Register and order

With the app officially launched, farmers who wish to hire equipment can register using their names, addresses and mobile numbers, and then order what they need.

For example, if a farmer needs a rotovator with tractor for one acre of land, the app will show all the CHCs which have the equipment available within 5, 20 and 50 km of the farmer’s set location, including their rates. The farmer can use the app or call the CHC to book the equipment at a specific time and location.

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With the app officially launched, farmers who wish to hire equipment can register using their names, addresses and mobile numbers, and then order what they need. - Photo: Screenshot
With the app officially launched, farmers who wish to hire equipment can register using their names, addresses and mobile numbers, and then order what they need. - Photo: Screenshot

An official from the ministry of agriculture said that the application has been successfully tested in a pilot programme in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab.

The application will have a feedback option from both the CHC’s and farmers, in order to create a rating system allowing customers to make informed decisions.

Promote new technology

The statement by the Indian ministry of agriculture said that this platform will also create “an invaluable database for policy-makers”, who can track the use and cost of equipment.

The application is also to help promote new technology like Happy Seeder that aims to prevent stubble burning that causes air pollution, or solar dryers that can help farmers process and preserve their produce.

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