Volume 2 No 10_2018: Status of Smallholders Agricultural Mechanization in Sub-Saharan Africa

Download a full copy:  Volume 2 No 10_2018: Status of Smallholders Agricultural Mechanization in Sub-Saharan Africa


The mechanization of Africa agricultural system is the next major milestone to ensure improved productivity, of the ailing sector that holds the economic future for the continent. Because agriculture provides livelihood for majority in Africa, the sector holds the fulcrum for its economic development, job provision for growing youth population and overall social wellbeing. Low productivity of agriculture in Africa is largely due to poor use of technologies as well as the use of manual equipment’s that are characterized with drudgery. Thus, Africa agriculture is unattractive and needs to maximize mechanical advantage to enhance productivity, quality and benefit from economy of scale. This review study examines the mechanization of the smallholder’s systems in Africa. It builds on the history of its mechanization and identified the constraints that require action to ensure the growth of the sector. Efforts to use external tools for agriculture dates to antiquity and this has grown over years till recent decades where motorized machines were developed to aid production, processing, packaging and storage activities for crop and livestock. The inflow and use of these machineries in Africa agriculture is low and largely due to institutional factors that are overlooked by the policy systems. Apparently, Africa will have to device its own unique mechanization strategy to suit its unique smallholders’ system that is defined by the land inheritance pattern and the national land tenure system. The land tenure system in most Africa countries prevents large scale agriculture as well as the use of large tractors and other earth moving equipment’s that are suitable for such. Governmental efforts in the past did import tractors and other implements to encourage mechanization, these intervention in most countries did experienced failure across board for reasons which include; lack of knowledgeable personnel to manage the equipment, cost of the equipment, under-utilization, lack of spare parts and largely, the running of the program by the government civil service system. Recent development efforts have seen the importation and use of smaller tractors from some Asian countries. The two-wheeler motorized equipment’s are gaining ground slowly especially in the regions where animal traction is not effective due to livestock failure. Even at this notable change, considerable actions are still required to ensure that adaptable machinery are made available and affordable by the smallholders. Such action needs to effectively give attention to building systemic capacity to manufacture and maintain the equipment’s. A partnership between the public and private sector actors will also be vital to ensure sustainability. In the short run, the establishment of private sector led hiring facilities could be encouraged and moderated by policies.

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