Experts call for scaling up of agricultural mechanization in sub-Saharan Africa


By UnreguserYang Zhen
  • World
  • Tuesday, 29 Sep 2020

NAIROBI, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Experts on Monday called for an increase in agricultural mechanization service to help transform farming in sub-Saharan Africa.

The experts, who spoke during a webinar meeting in Nairobi, noted that mechanization presents a transformative potential for the region.

"Mechanization gives an opportunity for smallholder farmers to transition from subsistence to commercial farming," George Marechera, business development manager at African Agricultural Technology Foundation said in Nairobi.

Marechera said that mechanization catalyzes increased production, reduces high labor costs, enhances production at low cost and promotes efficient use of inputs and improves supply chain.

"Countries in the region need to establish mechanization model farms to provide technology demonstration and capacity building to smallholder farmers," he added.

He said that the countries also need to leverage on the use of digital technology to reach the majority of farmers.

"Countries need to set up digital information platforms to facilitate provision of economically sustainable agriculture production," he said.

The official noted that farmers also require support with weather information and other e-extension support, agro-input information and market information.

They noted that the current two tractors per 1,000 hectares in the region is too low compared to east Asia and south Asia that has 18 and 12 tractors respectively per hectare.

Christopher Omongo, principal research officer at Uganda's National Agricultural Research Organization observed that smallholder farmers in the region suffer due to the high cost of tractors.

Omongo also called for harmonization of agricultural policies that he said also hinder mechanization in the region.

The experts called for increased acreage of irrigated land that currently stands at 9 percent in the region to help improve food production and defeat hunger.

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