Priyank Arora and Co-Authors Win People’s Choice Award at Sustainable Operations Workshop
A research study by Professor Priyank Arora won the 2022 People’s Choice Award at the recently concluded Early Career Sustainable Operations Workshop. At this workshop (hosted by the Wharton School on February 26-27), Arora and co-authors presented their ongoing study that examines the “Uber for Tractors” business model in emerging economies. In recent years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of agricultural equipment sharing platforms in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific regions that help smallholder farmers access mechanization services through mobile apps. The main lesson of this study is that agricultural equipment sharing platforms need to be careful about applying the findings and popular policies of “Uber” models in developed economies.
In addition to service providers (tractor owners) and users (farmers), these sharing platforms consist of an important third party, called booking agents. They serve as intermediaries who aggregate the demand of several small farmers and submit the service request on the app for that large group of farms. Low digital literacy and farmers’ distrust of ‘big’ tech-based companies make the presence of booking agents a crucial part of this business model. However, a primary reason for the presence of booking agents is purely driven by economics: equipment owners find it uneconomical to list their equipment for sharing as farmers are geographically dispersed across the most developing countries. Moreover, the size of the farms is extremely small, which means that they could end up traveling several kilometers to serve only a fraction of a hectare. Thus, demand aggregation by booking agents is an integral part of such platforms.
Priyank Arora and his co-authors Olufunke Adebola, Accenture, and Can Zhang, Duke University, are working closely with Hello Tractor to help improve the operations of these platforms to increase the reach of agricultural mechanization and benefit smallholders. farmers. Hello Tractor is an award-winning technology services platform that connects smallholder farmers with tractor owners to help farmers take advantage of mechanization by eliminating the need to own expensive equipment.
The Early Career Sustainable Operations Workshop aims to provide a research showcase and networking opportunities for early career researchers working in the field of sustainable operations. This year’s workshop brought together over 100 prolific researchers in this field, including senior and junior faculty from top business schools around the world. Next year’s workshop will be hosted by the Isenberg School of Management in the spring of 2023.