In Summary
  • Farm machinery is part and parcel of a successful agribusiness but many farmers shun the equipment due to high costs. Simon Peter Mugerwa, the technical and sales manager of New Holland tractors spoke to Denis Bbosa on what can be done to make farm machinery accessible to all farmers.

As the times evolve, many farmers have realised that mechanisation is the way to go if one is to get high yields.

As such, the indices show that the rate at which farmers have embraced the use of tractors in their agribusiness has increased from seven to 10 per cent.

Mid last year, President Museveni advised farmers in the cattle corridor districts to embrace agriculture mechanisation to mitigate effects of climate change.

He was presiding over the handover ceremony of 40 tractors (worth Shs3.5bn), 40 disc ploughs, nine hallows and nine tipping trailers to the beneficiary districts of Mbarara, Isingiro, Kiruhura, Sheema, Ibanda, Mitooma, Ntungamo, Lyantonde and Ssembabule.

Simon Peter Mugerwa, the technical and sales manager of New Holland tractors at Cooper Motor Corporation Limited says farmers are slowly giving up on the hoe method because farmlands are becoming larger as people run to urban areas.

“As farmers seek increased production, they have turned to tractors that do a lot of work in a short time and produces high yields. “We have been approached by some members of parliament willing to help some of their extensive farmers acquire the machines to boost their produce,” says Mugerwa.

Expensive venture
To dare into the costly but productive world of using tractors, a farmer needs to part with $17,000 (about Shs60m) for the cheapest tractor unit and $70,000 (about Shs250m) for the most expensive one.

“New Holland tractors are rated by their horse power. They range between 40, 45, 65, 75, 80, 90, 100 and 125- horsepower. The higher the horsepower the higher the performance and price,” he added.

To plough seven acres with a 40 horsepower tractor, a farmer needs 10 litres of fuel while a 125 horsepower tractor guzzles 50 litres for 100 acre piece of land.

A middle income farmer is recommended to purchase the 75-horsepower horse machine because it is relatively cheap and cost effective.

The fickle nature of Uganda’s economy has at times impacted on the farmer’s willingness to comply with the hire purchase arrangement with tractor selling companies.

Tractors for value addition
It was noted that few farmers with tractor units fully exploit their capacities to get value for money.
Apart from weeding, planting and land preparation, a tractor can also be used to generate power, run a water pump, transportation, slashing and making silage.

“There is a component in the New Holland tractors called power take off that can be plugged with a motor and power will be generated. The same process can be used for a water pump or irrigator,” explains Mugerwa.