Access to farm machinery is key for agricultural productivity


Photo credit: FAO

A worker adjusts a plough attachment in Djibo, Burkina Faso. Spare parts must be available for tractors to be useful.

Sustainable mechanization has much to offer in sub-Saharan Africa

Feeding the burgeoning world population will require significant improvements in agricultural productivity, above all in Africa, and mechanization and appropriate mechanization strategies have a large role to play, according to a new report from FAO.

The opportunity must be guided in a way that meets smallholder farmers’ needs and that does not require a Green-Revolution type of approach with high levels of agrochemical inputs and destructive ploughing operations that threaten soil health and fertility, according to FAO’s new report.

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Agricultural mechanization: A key input for sub-Saharan African smallholders underlines that agricultural mechanization in the twenty-first century should be environmentally compatible, economically viable, affordable, adapted to local conditions and, in view of current developments in weather patterns, climate-smart.

Mechanization covers all levels of farming and processing technologies, from simple and basic hand tools to more sophisticated and motorized equipment.

It extends far beyond ploughing and can contribute to productivity gains and new jobs in the post-harvest, processing and marketing stages of local and global food systems.

As things stand, two-thirds of the power used to prepare sub-Saharan African land for farming is provided by human muscle. Comparable rates are 30 percent for South Asia and even lower for Latin America.

Read the full article: FAO

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.