Growth in Agricultural Mechanization

On July 10, agricultural experts from Africa, Europe, and Asia met in Lilongwe, Malawi for the latest meeting of the Malabo Montpellier Forum. The Forum provides a platform for informed dialogue and exchange among African policy makers, politicians and decision-makers on African agriculture and food security.

This first 2018 meeting of the Forum focused on mechanization along the agricultural value chain and launched the Malabo Montpellier Panel (MaMo Panel)’s new report,  Mechanized - Transforming Africa’s Agriculture Value Chains. This report provides best practices and lessons learned from several African countries that have achieved significant agricultural growth and economic development through systematic mechanization efforts.

In Burkina Faso, agricultural mechanization increased by more than 3 percent per year from 2005 to 2014, while agricultural output grew by three percent per year during the same period. While the country is currently not on track to meet the Malabo commitment regarding access to agricultural inputs and technologies, the new report from the MaMo Panel finds that the government of Burkina Faso has made several strong commitments to continue the enhancement of agricultural mechanization.

For example, the Agricultural Equipment Maintenance and Repair Service under the Ministry of Agriculture provides maintenance and repair workshops for owners of agricultural equipment, such as tractors and motor pumps. These workshops also train beneficiaries of government extension services to use agricultural equipment efficiently. Education and training on the use of agricultural machinery is also offered through the Matourkou Polyvalent Learning Center (CAPM), an agriculture college that is part of the Ministry of Agriculture.

The government of Burkina Faso has also subsidized agricultural equipment through several programs, including the Agricultural Mechanization and Hydraulic Sector Support Development Project and the Program for Strengthening Agricultural Mechanization. These programs have subsidized various types of machinery at rates ranging from 50 to 90 percent. The government has also invested in the mechanization of agricultural processing, including the construction of processing facilities for shea products, milk products, and cassava. These investments in processing have paid particular attention to providing opportunities for women and youths.

Agricultural output in Ethiopia grew by more than 5 percent per year between 2005 and 2014, and annual agricultural machinery growth increased by around 3 percent during the same period. The country is currently well on track to meet the Malabo commitment on access to agricultural inputs and technology, with a strong ongoing mechanization process.

Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) was established in 2010. Together with the Ministry of Agriculture, the ATA developed the Agricultural Mechanization Strategy in 2014 in order to promote agricultural mechanization along the value chain. This includes raising Ethiopia’s agricultural productivity by (i) increasing the use of mechanical/electrical power for farms by 50 percent, (ii) reducing the use of animals for agricultural production by 50 percent, (iii) promoting agricultural machinery that can be more easily used by female farmers, and (iv) addressing 50 percent of the mechanization needs of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists.

Both the public sector and the private sector are heavily engaged in promoting agricultural mechanization in Ethiopia. In particular, tractor import, rental, and maintenance services have played a key role in mechanization in the country. Almost 70 percent of machinery-using farmers rely on tractors to plow their land; programs such as the Agricultural Mechanization Service Enterprise (AMSE) have increased the availability of and access to tractors for both large and small farmers, helping to increase overall agricultural productivity. Uptake of machinery for post-harvest processing activities has also been increased through various programs, such as the Sasakawa Africa Association/Sasakawa Global 2000 Ethiopia program, which trains farmers in the use of post-harvest machinery for proper storage and processing of rice. This program has encouraged more farmers to grow rice and has reduced post-harvest losses from insects and harmful chemicals used in storage.

Senegal has also seen annual growth in agricultural machinery use and agricultural output of around 3 percent between 2005 and 2014. While the country is currently not on track to meet the Malabo commitment regarding access to agricultural inputs and technologies, strong commitments have been made to encourage further agricultural mechanization.

Multiple government agencies and national research institutes promote the use of agricultural technology and improved agricultural practices. These include the National Agency for Integration and Agricultural Development (ANIDA), which aims to establish viable agribusinesses and make the agricultural sector attractive to young workers, and the National Agency for Agricultural and Rural Council (ANCAR), which promotes agricultural technology innovation, the development of good agricultural practices, and provides training and skill development to farmers.

The government of Senegal has subsidized agricultural equipment at a rate of 40 percent since 2008 through the Great Offensive for Food and Abundance (GOANA). In addition, the Senegalese Agriculture Pace Acceleration Program (PRACAS) provides training for farmers, particularly young farmers and women, and access to finance and locally appropriate equipment. The program subsidizes tractors, tillers, and combine harvesters at a rate of 60 percent. The government of Senegal and its various private sector and development partners continue to emphasize access to mechanization services for enhancing production and processing, as well as employment creation for youth and women.

Tanzania achieved annual agricultural machinery use growth of just under 3 percent and agricultural output growth of 6.6 percent between 2005 and 2014. The MaMo Panel report classifies Tanzania as rapidly mechanizing.

In the early 2000s, both the Tanzanian government and development partners dedicated efforts toward building private sector training and capacity for increased agricultural mechanization. The Ministry of Agriculture established the Agricultural Mechanisation Division to facilitate the upgrading of farm machinery, including renewable energy sources and conservation agricultural equipment. In addition, the Crop Mechanization Department, established in 2007-2008, aims to foster new investment from both the private and the public sectors in agribusiness and crop diversification.

The government has also focused on agricultural research and development and on establishing an appropriate enabling environment for small businesses to increase mechanization. For example, the Center for the Development and Transfer of Technology (CDTT) has aimed to stimulate the design and development of sustainable, locally adapted technologies. This center has developed, manufactured, and tested multiple technologies, such as powered plows and hybrid solar and wind energy systems. On the finance side, Equity for Africa Limited established the EFTA program to provide small businesses and farmers with access to finance with which to borrow farm equipment, such as tractors. Similarly the Rural Livelihood Development Programme worked with the government of Tanzania to remove import taxes on machines and spare parts, which helped increase small farmers’ access to machinery.

While many of Zambia’s smallholder farmers still rely on ox-drawn farm implements, the country saw annual growth in agricultural machinery use of over 3 percent from 2005 to 2014. In addition, agricultural output grew by about 8.5 percent. The MaMo Panel ranks Zambia as rapidly mechanizing.

Since the 2000s, the government of Zambia has focused on agricultural reform to promote privatization and trade, as well as increased investment and growth in export crop production and agricultural mechanization. The Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) works under the Ministry of Agriculture to provide crop, soil, and plant-protection technologies and machinery for farmers. ZARI also works with researchers, extension workers, farmers, and partner organizations to increase mechanization both on the farm and in agroprocessing.

The private sector has also been active in encouraging agricultural mechanization in Zambia. For example, NWK Agribusiness aims to provide farmers with easier access to machinery and post-harvest storage solutions in order to enable them to sell their crops at later stages and at higher prices. Through another company called Rent to Own (RTO), smallholders can access credit to acquire and repay both assets (such as tractors and maize shellers) and loans through payment schedules tailored to their individual incomes and technical assistance needs. This private sector involvement has been key in increasing Zambia’s uptake of agricultural machinery.

In addition to these countries, which are priority countries for the Food Security Portal project, the MaMo Panel report also covers Benin, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, and Rwanda.

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Photo Source: 
Ed Hawkesworth/DFID