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Commercialisation is the key.

With a growing number of countries, such as Malawi, Ghana and Rwanda, beginning to ramp up Ramp Up

To increase a company's operations in anticipation of increased demand.

A company might 'ramp up' operations if they just signed a contract creating substantially more demand for their product.
See also: Demand, Economies of Scale
 investment in agriculture to expand their production levels, investors, governments and aid organisations are focusing their attention on how to kick-start the single most important process for raising productivity levels: 'mechanisation'.

In agricultural terms, this signifies the use of agricultural machinery Agricultural machinery is one of the most revolutionary and impactful applications of modern technology. The truly elemental human need for food has often driven the development of technology and machines.  to mechanise Verb 1. mechanise - equip with armed and armored motor vehicles; "mechanize armies"
mechanize, motorise, motorize

equip, fit out, outfit, fit - provide with (something) usually for a specific purpose; "The expedition was equipped with proper clothing, food,
 agricultural endeavour, thus increasing farm productivity.

There is overwhelming consensus that mechanisation still has a long way to go in Africa. That is clear from figures which point to the fact that it is still overwhelmingly human manpower which drives agricultural production in Africa. For example, in Central Africa, 80% of worked land is cultivated manually and in eastern and southern Africa, this figure is 50%. In the 1960s, Tanzania's charismatic former President, Julius Nyerere Julius Kambarage Nyerere (April 13, 1922 - October 14, 1999) served as the first President of Tanzania and previously Tanganyika, from the country's founding in 1964 until his retirement in 1985.  complained that while the world was using combine harvesters, his farmers were still using wooden ploughs to till the soil. It was in an effort to increase mechanisation that he instituted the Ujamaa Ujamaa was the concept that formed the basis of Julius Nyerere's social and economic development policies in Tanzania just after it gained independence from Britain in 1964.  policy of collectivisation Noun 1. collectivisation - the organization of a nation or economy on the basis of collectivism

establishment, constitution, formation, organisation, organization - the act of forming or establishing something; "the constitution of a PTA
, since individual plots were too small to allow for mechanical farming on a commercial level. The policy failed - but largely because of the severe lack of organisational capacity that became evident during the programme and the reluctance of farmers to leave their ancestral landholdings for pastures new. This failure also set back efforts elsewhere to opt for larger, more-mechanised farming despite the outstanding results from South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa.  and Zimbabwe, where a small number of commercial farmers were producing more than sufficient quantities of food.

It was becoming clear that such large-scale changes in the traditional patterns of agriculture went beyond the use of better equipment and inputs - there were critical cultural, religious and social issues that also needed addressing. The failure to do so resulted in the disastrous Tand liberation' policies of Robert Mugabe Mugabe redirects here.

For other uses, see Mugabe (disambiguation).
Robert Gabriel Mugabe KCB (born on February 21, 1924) is the President of Zimbabwe.[1] He has been the head of government in Zimbabwe since 1980, first as Prime Minister[2]
 in 2000.

Nevertheless, even when no such hindrances were present, efforts of various African governments and donors to accelerate the use of mechanisation inputs had, at best, had mixed results. 'The reasons for this are varied. One major contributing factor has been lack of investment. Compared with other regions, in the past African countries have not committed to serious investments in crucial agricultural infrastructure, such as irrigation irrigation, in agriculture, artificial watering of the land. Although used chiefly in regions with annual rainfall of less than 20 in. (51 cm), it is also used in wetter areas to grow certain crops, e.g., rice. .

This cannot be simply attributed to a lack of willpower or capital. Africa's agricultural landscape is normally dispersed, rendering it more difficult to coordinate large-scale farming projects than in other places, such as India, China and Brazil, which have managed the feat.



According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 experts, it has largely been governments that have attempted to take on the challenge, but the outcome has traditionally been uninspiring uninspiring

not likely to make people interested or excited

Adj. 1. uninspiring - depressing to the spirit; "a villa of uninspiring design"
inspiring - stimulating or exalting to the spirit
: "In many cases where governments established tractor-hire schemes to serve small-scale farmers, planning was very short term and management was poorly trained and poorly supported;' according to UNIDO's Agricultural Mechanisation in Africa report. "Such schemes, although relatively few across the continent, failed miserably, denting the image of agricultural mechanisation in general"

The mechanisation challenge that Africa faces becomes apparent when you consider tractor uptake in the region; tractors, as an indispensable tool for tillage and transportation, are a key piece of equipment for farming mechanisation. Research indicates that other developing regions have 10 times the number of tractors per unit of agricultural land as does Africa, where the number of tractors has barely increased in the last 40 years.

Africa is estimated to be home to less than half a million tractors, but this number would have to increase to 3.5m for Africa to stand any chance of catching up with other developing regions, according to UNIDO. A mechanisation drive to get tractor numbers to this point would thus, realistically, take at the very least a decade.

Similarly, figures indicate that Africa is some way behind in terms of irrigation farming; only 5% of Africa's cultivable land is irrigated, in comparison with the rest of the developing world, where 30% is. The comparative count of pumps, diesel engines and other equipment for irrigation is also very low.

New enthusiasm for mechanisation

Yet certain countries have shown an impressive new appetite for mechanisation. In Rwanda, the mechanisation process is showing glimmers of a breakthrough - major tractor manufacturing companies such as Massey Ferguson Massey Ferguson Limited is a major agricultural equipment manufacturer. Originally started in Canada it became one of the country's largest industrial concerns in the 1960s.  and Ford now distribute their products in the Eastern Province, although numbers remain modest. Workshops have also begun to proliferate in the country in order to aid farmers with maintenance, upkeep and repair of their equipment.

Ghana is also making progress in this area, according to a recent report by the FAO FAO,
n See Food and Agriculture Organization.
. The number of imported tractors has risen in recent years, owing to the government s mechanisation programme. Between 2004 and 2006, 3,000 tractors, mainly from India, China, Japan and Czech Republic, were imported - a trend that has continued with thousands more imported.

Encouragingly, Ghanaian farmers have shown great enthusiasm for such products and demand is high. The government has also introduced financial support structures to help farmers make purchases. Agricultural machinery is imported free of tax duties. Tractors are also subsidised and buyers have been able to space out their payments over three years.

Similarly, in Mali, the former government imported an increasing number of tractors from India and subsidised their prices. Farmers that cultivate rice and cotton have also been given access to loans to buy mechanisation products.

Younger farmers have been targeted in particular - tractors have been supplied to young Malians at heavily subsidised and interest-free prices with the money payable over 10 years. Budding Malian farmers have also benefited from business plan training.

Local manufacture vital

Not all agricultural breakthroughs that the continent has experienced in recent years have been government-led. International organisations have also made contributions to improving mechanisation.

One area where they have made their mark is in irrigation. Their single most important contribution: the treadle pump. Its impact on farming in certain pockets of Africa has been significant. In Tanzania, the Participatory Irrigation Development Project has boosted farm income by 86%. In Zimbabwe, the EU-funded Maunganidze Irrigation Scheme also resulted a 200% hike in income levels for participants.

A common complaint of business-minded African enthusiasts is that discourses pertaining to African agriculture are often devoid of business focus and attention to the role, hopes and fears of crucial private sector investors.

But, according to experts, commercialism is key to success, and it is the role of noncommercial actors to facilitate its growth: "The main challenge is to improve the business climate for private entrepreneurs - including small farmers - to build up agriculture as a business. This means improving public infrastructure - roads, water, energy, telecoms - as well as more predictable and enforced policies governing agricultural inputs and markets," says Steven Schonberger oflFAD.

Nonetheless, mechanisation still presents a number of challenges for investors. Firstly, equipment costs are still prohibitive for many farmers. Despite the efforts of importing companies to price equipment as competitively as possible, the cost remains stubbornly high, around double of that in Asia. There is also a dearth of companies providing spare parts in Africa, which means availability of these crucial products is also low and many farmers lack adequate training in how to operate and maintain them.

Experts recommend a number of measures to address this. They include boosting private sector investment in local manufacturing of equipment and spare parts and providing formal training to farmers in the maintenance and operation of their equipment.


Between 2004 and 2006,

3,000 tractors, mainly from India, China, Japan and Czech Republic, were imported in Ghana
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Publication:African Business
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:May 1, 2012
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