Project overview

Imara Tech is a Tanzanian start-up that brings mechanization to small farms in rural communities, increasing the productivity, crop quality and incomes of smallholder farmers.

The problem

In Tanzania and many low- and middle-income countries, smallholder farmers lack access to mechanized agricultural equipment. The supply of mechanized equipment is limited, and available options are often too costly for smallholder farmers.

As a result, around 98 percent of the small farms in Tanzania rely on manual farming techniques, which require heavy phyiscal work, significant time, and labour lower their productivity. One example of farm labour is separating the grains from a plant after harvest, known as threshing. Field data suggest that farmers spend an average of three hours threshing a single sack of maize, which equals to over a week of manual labour for each acre of maize farmed. Other crops such as sorghum and beans are similarly laborious.

Lack of mechanization perpetuates a cycle of poverty. Manual labour results in low productivity and missed income opportunities for smallholders, which in turn limits farmers' access to technology. Innovative solutions are needed to replace manual labour with suitable and affordable mechanized agricultural equipment for smallholder farmers.

 

Manual threshing methods are inefficient and limit the productivity of the farm.
Manual threshing methods are inefficient and limit the productivity of the farm. Photo: WFP/Badre Bahaji.
The solution

Imara Tech is a Tanzanian startup that manufactures mechanized agricultural equipment from local materials. Imara Tech's Multi-Crop Threshing machine separates common staple crops such as maize, beans, sorghum, pigeon peas and sunflower up to 75 times faster than manual threshing, cutting threshing times by days or even weeks.

Mechanized threshing reduces grain and seed damage, improves the end-product quality, and enables smallholder farmers to generate more income by selling their produce in higher-value markets. Easily portable (e.g. by motorcycle), the Multi-Crop Threshing machine can earn smallholder farmers US$ 10 per hour as an income-generating business, paying off the initial investment within one harvest season.

 

Imara Tech's Multi-Crop Threshing Machine saves smallholder farmers more than 40 hours of manual work per acre of land
Imara Tech's Multi-Crop Threshing Machine saves smallholder farmers more than 40 hours of manual work per acre of land. Judith (24) is an Imara Tech operator who also sells agricultural inputs at her shop in Arusha Town, Tanzania. Photo: WFP/Kilian Blount.

 

The way forward

Through the WFP Sprint Programme in 2021, Imara Tech has expanded operations into the Kigoma region of Tanzania and aims to sell 200 machines, providing access to mechanization for 10,000 smallholder farmers.

Imara Tech has been testing different sales and marketing models throughout their sprint programme to identify the most cost-effective model for scaling. Grounded on these learnings, Imara Tech plans to expand its product portfolio and increase its market penetration moving forward, aimingtoexpand its reach internationally by 2025.

Imara Tech's Multi-Crop Threshing Machine saves smallholder farmers more than 40 hours of manual work per acre of land.
Imara Tech's Multi-Crop Threshing Machine saves smallholder farmers more than 40 hours of manual work per acre of land.
50
smallholder farmers reached per machine
US$ 750
Average income earned per person in one season
90
Hours of labour saved per 2-acre farm

Meet the team

Elliot Avila
CEO of Imara Tech
Alfred Chengula
COO of Imara Tech
Adriana Garties
CTO of Imara Tech
Last updated: 04/06/2021