Commercialisation Is the Key

African Business, May 2012 | Go to article overview

Commercialisation Is the Key


With a growing number of countries, such as Malawi, Ghana and Rwanda, beginning to ramp up 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 to mechanise 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 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 policy of collectivisation, 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 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 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.

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.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

According to experts, it has largely been governments that have attempted to take on the challenge, but the outcome has traditionally been uninspiring: "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. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Commercialisation Is the Key
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.