In this section, you may find new materials that have been published on the topic of “Smart and Affordable farming solutions for Africa: the next driver for agricultural transformation”, since the date of the event. We continually select major new publications and articles that add up to the policy points discussed in this briefing.

UN’s FAO sheds light on the enablers of digital transformation in agriculture
techwireasia; 13/06/2019

For regulators, farmers, and businesses, it’s an incredibly exciting opportunity because, for the first time in more than a 100 years, it’s possible to improve production and bring a certain degree of confidence to transparency and traceability operations. Consumers are excited by the prospects too. In some parts, traceability and transparency that blockchain and IoT bring will help organic farmers and local producers finally get the premium they deserve. In other markets, drones and IoT will make it easier to produce more per hectare, feeding more mouths than ever before. However, as easy as it sounds, the reality is that the digital transformation of agriculture is still a few years away. According to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, there are three key enablers that regulators, businesses, and producers must work on together in order to prepare for the digital transformation of agriculture.

Drone technology helps EC farmers reduce overheads, strengthen security; 24/05/2019

The Eastern Cape farming community has implemented the use of drone technology, as a means to improve security, boost productivity and help reduce escalating costs. According to farmers’ organisation Agri Eastern Cape, the use of drones will play an integral part in farming operations moving forward. More and more farmers are starting to use drones to do quick spot-checks on their farming operations without having to waste time trekking to remote areas on foot. This ranges from checking that boundary fences are secure, to checking on livestock, watering points and other critical operational issues. Joseph Ott, a conservation manager at a private reserve near Graaff-Reinet, said he started using his drone a year ago and has been reaping the benefits ever since. “We did some research and quickly realised that drones could make a huge difference to increase efficiency to gather critical information quicker and at a lower cost [than labour and transport].” “Saving time collecting information is part of our monitoring and evaluation of our various conservation projects and is crucial to any farming and wildlife operation. Before, a large amount of time was taken up walking to various parts of the reserve [for inspections and monitoring]. The use of a drone, cuts that work down by more than 50% allowing me to do more in the same amount of time. It’s a win-win situation any day of the week!”

New partnership provides free data and scouting services to SA farmers; 15/05/2019

Yesterday, Agri SA and Aerobotics announced their partnership to provide South African farmers with access to free satellite farming data and the latest Aeroview In-Field Scouting Application. The partnership aims to accelerate access to analytical information at scale to assist farmers in the early identification of pest and disease and improvement of yield. “The partnership is a great example of the potential that can be unlocked when bringing key players in the agricultural value-chain together,” says Omri van Zyl, executive head at Agri SA. “This is a win-win for everyone. We know that South African farmers are early-adopters when it comes to new technology. We’re confident that Aeroview can be used to their immediate benefit.” Aerobotics, a member of the Agri SA corporate chamber, is a proudly South African company committed to advancing the future of the farming landscape. The advanced satellite data coupled with the latest crop scouting software will be made available to farmers at no cost or any future commitment.

How high-tech agriculture is transforming the fortunes of Nigerian rice farmers, 16/01/2019

New planting and harvesting techniques have transformed the fortunes of rice farmers in Nigeria’s agricultural belt, turning family-run plots into thriving businesses. Many have doubled or tripled their profit with higher yields and better-quality rice that gives smallholder farmers access to a wider market. Three years ago, Mohammed Sani scraped enough to feed his family from a 1.5-hectare plot in Kebbi State. After levelling the land, acquiring superior seeds and changing planting techniques from a scattering style known as broadcasting to transplanting nursery-grown crops in neat rows, his output has increased by more than 50 per cent. “I’ve realised rice farming is a business,” he says. Rice is a staple food in Africa but supply falls far short of demand with yields in the sub-Saharan region among the lowest in the world. Pressure is mounting on local agriculture to feed rapidly growing populations and reduce reliance on expensive foreign rice. In Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country, productivity has increased but 55 per cent of demand is still met by imports. Government efforts to reach self-sufficiency and improve food security are contingent on the success of small-scale farmers like Sani, who account for more than 80 per cent of cultivation.

Uniting African Farmers Through Social Media, 10/01/2019

Noah Nasiali, a farmer in eastern Kenya, is using social media to bring together farmers throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Through his Facebook group, Africa Farmers Club, Nasiali is uniting 128,000 Africans to discuss farming hardships and solutions. Since the groups’ origin in early 2018, Nasiali began organizing local workshops about soil testing, seed maintenance in certain climates, and other farming practices led by expert farmers. Nasiali talks about some of these local events with Food Tank. “Farmers are coming out and telling their stories. We are getting the right information, we have experts, we organize food discussions every week. Either a crop, a challenge that farmers are facing…we have live interviews with experts in the industries and expert farmers. The most important part of it is that it is a farmer-owned and farmer-led initiative, and farmers tend to prefer to listen to other farmers who have experience.” As a young farmer, Nasiali experienced hardships common in farming when one of his clients abandoned a sale during harvest season, leaving him with nowhere to sell 75,000 cabbages. Searching for emotional support as well as advice on managing his excess supply of the crop, he turned to the internet. While he found a few groups designed for discussion among African farmers, none of them highlighted real farmer experiences. “With all these Facebook groups and all this information and all these schools and professors and colleges, how come people are not addressing the plight of the farmer?” Nasiali says to Food Tank.

Boosting farm productivity in Africa through the sustainable use of machines. New African Union-FAO framework also aims to create new jobs while reducing reliance on manual labor, 09/10/2018

FAO and the African Union today launched a new framework document that aims to increase agricultural efficiency and reduce drudgery by helping countries in Africa to develop strategies for sustainable farm mechanization. The Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization: A Framework for Africa (SAMA) is the result of discussions with policy makers from AU member states, the AU Commission, FAO and key partners. It offers a detailed look at the history of machinery in Africa, and points the way towards addressing challenges and creating new opportunities to assure the successful adoption of mechanization. “Doubling agricultural productivity and eliminating hunger and malnutrition in Africa by 2025 will be no more than a mirage unless mechanization is accorded utmost importance,” AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Sacko, said at the launch of the framework at FAO. Remarkably more than three-fourths of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa prepare their lands using only hand tools, a practice that entails poor productivity, repels youth and is incompatible with the continent’s Zero Hunger goal.

Africa entices youth to farming with technology, 27/12/2018

Marie Chantal Akingeneye has had no source of manure for her fruits and vegetables since she lost her only cow to an unknown illness, but she hopes a new phone app could help. After attending a training session by the United Nations, which developed the technology, she thinks the app will help to keep her goats and pigs healthy and modernize her farm for her six-year-old son to take over. “It tells farmers about symptoms and diseases that attack livestock,” said the 28-year-old single mother, sitting outside her home in northern Rwanda. “The cow died because I didn’t know it was sick. Now I don’t have much fertilizer.” Donors and African governments hope such tools could also lure youth to farming as the continent struggles with rising hunger, unemployment and migration. Africa has the world’s youngest population — 60 percent of its 1.2 billion people are younger than 25 — but only three million jobs are created for some 12 million young people who enter the workforce each year, the African Development Bank says. While developed nations turn to robots, block chain, artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve agricultural challenges, simple, mobile phone-based offerings could produce great results in Africa, experts say.

Sustainable agricultural mechanization – A framework for Africa, 05/10/2018

The African Union Commission (AUC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) view agricultural mechanization in Africa as an urgent matter and an indispensable pillar for attaining the Zero Hunger vision by 2025, as stated in the Malabo Declaration of 2014, Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Prosperous Africa We Want, as indicated in Agenda 2063. Doubling agricultural productivity and eliminating hunger and malnutrition in Africa by 2025 will be no more than a mirage unless mechanization is accorded utmost importance. The prerequisites for attaining these laudable objectives are enhancing access to mechanization services, improving access to quality and affordable inputs, such as seed and fertilizer, and delivering efficient water resource management systems including irrigation. This publication, Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization: A Framework for Africa, is a result of continuous and thorough discussions among high-level policymakers and experts of the AU Member States, the AUC, FAO and other partners in the fields of food and agriculture. It aims to inform policymakers and decision makers in the Member States and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Africa, and the wider development community dealing with agricultural development, on the significance of mainstreaming sustainable agricultural mechanization in the overall national and regional agricultural development programmes.

Mechanized: Transforming Africa’s Agriculture Value Chains, 14/09/2018

The report — Mechanized: Transforming Africa’s Agriculture Value Chains—summarizes the findings of a systematic analysis of what countries at the forefront of progress in mechanization have done right. It analyzes which policy decisions were taken and which interventions were implemented to substantially increase the uptake of mechanization. The report takes a broad perspective on mechanization, including technologies along the entire value chain and how they relate to agricultural development and job creation. The report shows what can be done to sustainably mechanize agriculture to increase production and enhance value addition across value chain segments. The set of policies and practices that are identified, if brought to scale, could have significant impact on agricultural transformation in Africa. The report provides a roadmap for African governments to take concerted action to deliver on the growth and transformation targets set out by the Malabo Declaration and the Sustainable Development Goals.

FAO and CIMMYT launch new training manual for mechanization service providers, 13/07/2018

A new training manual launched today provides practical guidance for agricultural mechanization entrepreneurs in rural areas, where family farmers commonly lack capital to invest in the farm power required to increase food production especially in Africa. The five-module training manual targeted at farm mechanization service providers, including youth and women, was developed by researchers and experts at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). It sets out a syllabus which trainers can tailor to local environments to equip entrepreneurs with essential business skills and knowledge to promote appropriate mechanization farmers need to sustainably intensify production, said Josef Kienzle, Agricultural Engineer at FAO. Small scale mechanization, such as two-wheel tractor based technologies including direct seed planters, represent a shift away from destructively intensive agriculture. However, the decline of hire tractor schemes means resource-poor farmers often lack the financial means to obtain them, said Bruno Gerard, director of CIMMYT’s sustainable intensification program.

Mechanization in African Agriculture A Continental Overview on Patterns and Dynamics Authors’ addresses Mechanization in African Agriculture A Continental Overview on Patterns and Dynamics, June 2018

This study provides an overview on the patterns and dynamics of mechanization in African agriculture over the 10 year period (2005-2014). Farm level and value chain related mechanization are considered. This study looks in to pattern of agricultural mechanization along the entire value chain (production, post-harvest, processing, transport and storage) and compares it with the annual average agricultural output over the same time period. Clusters of countries are identified by grouping countries into those that have simultaneously experienced high growth rate in agricultural machinery and also in agricultural output, including; Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo, and Zambia. On the opposite side of the spectrum are countries with low growth in machinery and in agricultural output, and include for instance Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Egypt. In general, there is a positive correlation (of 0.52) between agricultural machinery growth and agricultural output growth in Africa, which is a classical two – way relationship, not to be interpreted as a causal one.

Nigeria To Modernise Agric Through Mechanisation, ICT, 20/04/2018

The Federal Government has affirmed that efforts are been made to modernise the agricultural sector through farm mechanisation and use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to target and encourage youth participation in agriculture. Bukar Hassan, the Permanent Secretary, FMARD who was represented by Karima Babangida, the Director-Federal Department of Extension, made this known during a courtesy visit by Students of United States of America War College to the ministry. He reiterated the commitment of the ministry in developing agriculture with a view to attaining national food security and provision of gainful employment for its teeming youth population. He said the ministry in its effort to boost export is working with organisations such as the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council to ensure safety standard of food, maintenance of international quality standards and safety requirements.

FAO says lack of modern farming techniques threatens Africa’s food security
inhua, 19/04/2018

he UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Wednesday warned that lack of modern farming techniques threatens Africa’s food security. Josef Kienzle, FAO’s Leader of the Mechanization task team, said that unless the governments adopt new technologies of farming, the continent will continue relying on food aid. “There is need for a paradigm shift on intensive crop production since the current methods applied cannot meet the challenges of the new millennium,” Kienzle said during the second conservation agriculture conference in Nairobi. The FAO official said the use of rudimentary hand tools and little access to mechanization and inputs such as quality seeds and fertilizer is further complicating agricultural productivity in the continent that has a high population growth rate. He said the governments must also consider allocating funds towards the improvement of degraded fertile land, depleted groundwater, pest upsurges, eroded biodiversity, air, water and soil pollution and sustainable intensification to help increase production. He noted that the more the annual crop yields continue declining, the more the continent will have of undernourished people.

Report describes Nigeria’s rice production mechanisation process as low, 03/04/2018

A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on rice production in Nigeria has described the country’s mechanisation process for the production of the cereal crop as low. PricewaterhouseCoopers made the observation in the report titled “Boosting Rice Production through Increased Mechanisation’’, a copy of which was e-mailed to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday. The report noted that Nigeria’s mechanisation rate had remained low at 0.3 hp/ha, when compared to India’s 2.6hp/ha and China’s 8 hp/ha. It said that the number of agricultural tractors in the country was about 22,000, relative to one million tractors in China and 2.5 million tractors in India. “Low income, limited access to affordable financing and the lack of technical skills have limited the adoption of mechanisation across the rice value chain,’’ it said.

East Africa: Technology Helping East Africa Unlock Agriculture Potential
All Africa, 12/04/2018

Information technology is being utilised more than ever to improve agriculture in East Africa. The sector is responsible for 83.9% of imports and 80% of total employment in Ethiopia alone. Technology-led transformation promotes good business practise and encourages farmers to work collaboratively. On a larger scale, aerial images from satellites, weather forecasts and soil sensors are making it easier to manage crop growth in real time. Successful ventures have the potential to open up huge markets and are attracting investors from around the globe. According to African Tech Start-ups Funding Report 2017, agri-tech start-ups across the continent raised a combined total of US$13.2 million last year. Not a huge amount, but certainly an increase on the US$50,000 raised in 2015. It is a sector that has suddenly, and quite dramatically, sprung up.

Agricultural mechanisation in Ghana
Internal Growth Centre, March 2018

Mechanisation of agriculture is occurring in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, but there remains limited understanding of the economic, social, and institutional conditions underlying this trend. There has been a striking growth in the use of agricultural machinery in Ghana since the early 2000s.  This seemingly contradicts perceptions of agricultural stagnation and also runs counter to frequently voiced arguments that mechanisation does not make economic sense in settings where capital is expensive and labour is cheap.  Nevertheless, in the northern cereal-producing areas of Ghana, mechanisation is commonplace within the local farming system, including in smallholder production systems.  Furthermore, rental markets have emerged, which have allowed farmers of all scales to mechanise production.

Parrot Drones Increases Support to African Agriculture

A shared-cost initiative between Parrot Drones and the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) has been launched for the deployment of drones for agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. The CTA, a joint institution between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the Europen Union, aims to increase prosperity in its participant nations through food security and sound resource management. The partnership follows Parrot’s introduction in October last year of their Bluegrass thermal imaging drone specifically designed for precision agriculture. The Parrot Bluegrass features both a video camera and multispectral sensor, Parrot Sequoia, as well as the easy to use processing cloud platform, AIRINOV FIRST+.

Strategies For Scaling Agricultural Technologies in Africa, 02/02/2018

The need to bring existing and upcoming technologies to scale has been highlighted broadly by policy makers and development practitioners in Africa. This felt need came along with the mantra that Africa have a lot of technologies on the shelve that are yet to be translated to socio economic benefit for the stakeholders in the sector. Whether this is factual or not, Africa agriculture requires a systematic way of bringing technologies with very high potentials to scale. This book aims to bridge this gap in knowledge, by reviewing the existing knowledge on scaling technologies and innovation. It provides a comprehensive review of knowledge and systematically propose various strategies to ensure that agricultural technologies are scaled up and scaled out for mega social and economic benefits.

Youth, smart phones and tractors in Africa – a new agrarian class?

Institute of Development Studies, 14/11/2017

Farming mechanisation is back on the policy and research agenda. Although some old debates – on roles of the state and on appropriate type and scale of technology – remain relevant, there are new players, new themes and new technologies, as well as fresh opportunities for mutual learning and exchange across the Global South. A recent conference on South-South Knowledge Sharing on Agricultural Mechanization in Addis Ababa, organised by IFPRI, CIMMYT and the Ethiopian Agricultural Mechanization Forum, showcased some novel experiences with mechanisation, cutting across very different landscapes and agrarian societies. Here we reflect on the connection between agricultural mechanisation and young people and sketch out a research agenda.

African youth go digital to keep climate-smart farming alive
climatechangenews, 13/11/2017

African campaigners are promoting digital tools to keep young people involved in farming and prevent migration, delegates heard on the sidelines of climate talks in Bonn, Germany. Youth unemployment averages 10.8% across sub-Saharan Africa, while nearly seven out of 10 young people earn less than $3.10 a day. Climate change impacts like drought and flooding are making it harder for farmers to get by, with large numbers making a risky journey to seek better opportunities in Europe. In response to this challenge, the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) is bringing young people together through digital and conventional means to share knowledge about climate-smart agriculture. According to Amanda Namayi from CSAYN Kenya, the internet has helped the youth form alliances across 28 countries to promote sustainable farming. “This initiative started in Africa but it is now spreading to other parts of the world,” she said. CSAYN is promoting activities associated with farming such as marketing, accounting and manufacturing to help the youth realise that agriculture can also be done by those with university qualifications.

Precision Farming Enables Climate-Smart Agribusiness
IFC, October 2017

Emerging market countries, particularly India and nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, can benefit from advanced farming technologies that mitigate the effects of climate change and protect environmental resources. Water scarcity is an issue that can be overcome by adopting climate-smart technologies such as micro-irrigation. There are several precision agriculture investment opportunities available to the private sector, including agricultural extension via digital advisory services, drip irrigation, solar pumps, and crop and soil monitoring. Existing and developing technologies will have a major role in food production and food security in emerging markets. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the largest yield gain potential across the world’s key staple crops—maize, rice, and wheat—in percentage terms are in Africa, South Asia, and parts of Latin America.

Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization for Smallholders: What Is It and How Can We Implement It?
Brian Sims and Josef Kienzle, 10/06/2017

Smallholder farmers are the main producers of the world’s food and they will have to increase production by up to 100 percent by 2050 to feed the growing population. This must be achieved while preserving natural resources and that is why sustainable agricultural mechanization (SAM) will be fundamental to the process. SAM is climate-smart and environmentally benign and essentially means no-till conservation agriculture, which requires specific mechanization inputs. Principally, these are seeders and planters capable of penetrating soil surface vegetative cover to deposit seed and fertilizer at the required depth and spacing; and equipment for management of cover crops and weeds. Mechanization is required not only for crop production, but also for processing and along the entire value chain. Mechanization inputs are usually expensive and so specialist service provision will be the indicated way forward.

Precision agriculture for African farmers
Wageningen University, 04/06/2017

Precision agriculture is not exclusive to the modern, western farmers. Smaller farmers in West Africa can also use precision agriculture to improve their harvest and labour productivity. This was revealed by a publication of the Wageningen agroecologist Ken Giller together with international colleagues.Farmers in the semi-arid part of West Africa have to deal with poor plant growth, varying precipitation, low soil fertility and a lack of labour, and they have little money and resources to solve these problems. That is why they benefit from cultivation measures that make efficient use of the available resources and diminish the risks of poor harvest. Precision agriculture can help the farmers improve their production, write the researchers in the journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development.

Perceptions On The Impact Of Agricultural Mechanization For Valur Addition And Beneficiation: As A Poverty Reduction Strategy In Zimbabwe’s Smallholder Farming Communities, A Case Of Matetsi Area In Hwange District Matabeleland North Region
International Journal of Business Marketing and Management (IJBMM), April 2017

An assessment on how smallholder farmers perceive the possible impact of agricultural mechanization for value addition to maximize producers’ beneficiation was carried out in Matetsi area of Hwange district; Matabeleland north province. It is imperative that after the launch of the country’s massive agrarian reforms and the initial mechanization of agronomic farm operations aimed at boosting agricultural productivity and production efficiencies in the newly fragmented farming units, mechanization for value addition and maximization of beneficiation became the missing link in advancing the livelihood of the new settlers. Seasonality in the production of most agricultural produce and lack of on-farm processing for value addition lead to minimal returns for the farmer, culminating in a situation where the majority of the farming households fail to break-even in most seasons hence forcing them to live in abject poverty and face critical food security challenges as alluded to by (FAO, 2007). For purposes of data collection a sample of 120 participants was randomly drawn from the ward’s population of 1 186 (District Central Statistics Department, 2016). These comprised farmers, officers from Agritex Agriculture Research and Extension Services; government departments such as Ministry of Agricultural Engineering and Mechanization as well as officials from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe RBZ and NGOs Non-Governmental Organizations operating in the study area. A questionnaire aided by individual household interviews was used to generate data from the respondents. Data obtained was subjected to grass margin and product net-value analysis as well as descriptive statistics for purposes of presenting findings. The study revealed that farmers were against the notion that they remain producers of raw materials for industries located elsewhere; they felt that their integration in to the production chain as manufacturers would agitate the aggregation of a robust agricultural system which is cost effective and a necessity for sustainable and self- financing rural agriculture

Value chain financing: evidence from Zambia on smallholder access to finance for mechanization
Enterprise Development and Microfinance , March 2017

Smallholder farmers in Zambia comprise 85 per cent of the farmers’ population. Such farmers are regarded as not creditworthy and furthermore their agricultural productivity could be improved. The aim of this paper is to present recent evidence on value chain financing (VCF) as a framework to increase access to agricultural finance for Zambian smallholder farmers. Such financing will act as an enabler to mechanize and, in turn, might improve productivity. Qualitative data collection techniques were followed to provide the results as presented in three illustrative case studies. Each case study highlights the benefits of financing, using the value chain framework, but also emphasizes certain challenges and risks associated with the approach. The Zambian case is not perfect, but provides recent evidence of how various roleplayers in Zambia’s agricultural sector have applied the VCF framework to coordinate the actions of various chain actors, and by doing so allow smallholders access to finance within the local and country-specific context. Although two of the three VCF programmes have been discontinued, they still provide useful learning points: for instance, commercial banks should assign more resources to manage the VCF products; and the risk should be shared between all the VCF participants.

Agricultural Mechanization in West Africa
Syngenta, 28/12/ 2016

Africa is the only region in the world where agricultural productivity has been largely stagnant since 1960s. Average cereal production in Africa stood at 1.5 ton/ha in 2014; the world average was 3.6 ton/ha. Experiences in some developing countries of Asia and Latin America show that agriculture could be transformed into progressive commercial industry. Investment in agricultural machinery has enabled farmers to intensify production and improve their income and quality of life. In countries such as India, China, Brazil and Turkey, the rapid expansion in farm machinery demand has stimulated the growth of local machinery manufacturing. These countries are now major producers and world leaders in farm machinery exports (FAO/UNIDO, 2008). The same development could happen in Africa, if farmers could intensify their activities through greater mechanization. This would lead to increased input use, higher food production, enhanced food security and reduced dependence on imports. This background paper looks at agricultural development and mechanization with a particular focus on West Africa. It describes the evolution of agricultural mechanization and discusses the major drivers and issues, followed by a look ahead.

Agricultural mechanization: A key input for sub-Saharan Africa smallholders
FAO, 2016

This paper is specifically about agricultural mechanisation: the opportunities provided by mechanisation for intensifying production in a sustainable manner, in value addition and agri-food value chain development, as well as the inherent opportunities implied for improved local economies and livelihoods. The establishment of viable business enterprises agro-processors, transport services, and so forth as a result of increased agricultural mechanisation in rural areas, is crucial to creating employment and income opportunities and, thereby, enhancing the demand for farm produce. Mechanisation plays a key role in enabling the growth of commercial agri-food systems and the efficiency of post-harvest handling, processing and marketing operations, and as such can be a major determinant in the availability and accessibility of food, the food prices paid by urban and rural poor, as well as contributing to increased household food security.

Fact sheet: Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization
FAO, 2016

Mechanization covers all levels of farming and processing technologies, from simple and basic hand tools to more sophisticated and motorized equipment. It eases and reduces hard labour, relieves labour shortages, improves productivity and timeliness of agricultural operations, improves the efficient use of resources, enhances market access and contributes to mitigating climate related hazards.

Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Fresh Look on Agricultural Mechanisation, 31/10/2016

Much of sub-Saharan Africa’s farmland is (still) cultivated with the hand hoe, and agricultural processing and transport are often done manually. This limits the potential of agriculture in the region and the attractiveness of agriculture and its value chains for the young generation. One important improvement could be the mechanisation of (parts of) the production processes. However, this implies high levels of investment and risks for farmers, and the necessary financing is especially difficult to access for longer-term agricultural investments such as mechanisation. In addition, there can be trade-offs between mechanisation and employment for and of the poor. For a better understanding of how mechanisation can contribute to food security, we first assess the non-financial aspects of mechanisation. In a second step, the difficulty in accessing financing is analysed, distilling success factors for financing mechanisation.

Mechanised agriculture essential in Sub-Saharan Africa, 29/09/2016

According to a new report from FAO, mechanisation and appropriate mechanisation strategies have a large role to play in improving agriculture productivity, particularly in Africa, in order to feed the growing world population. 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. Agricultural mechanisation: A key input for Sub-Saharan African smallholders underlines that agricultural mechanisation 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. Mechanisation covers all levels of farming and processing technologies, from simple and basic hand tools to more sophisticated and motorised 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.

‘Smart farming’ to help South Africans tackle drought, 23/09/2016

Southern African farmers know a lot about climate change due to the worsening drought conditions they face. But, according to agriculture and development researchers, these farmers lack the resources to put solutions that work into place. That is in part because government agricultural extension services, which offer training and advice to farmers, have too few agents, states a report by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, based in the Netherlands. In many cases, farmers are simply not aware of potential solutions, said Oluyede Ajayi, a senior programme coordinator with the centre, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting in Johannesburg on scaling up climate-smart agricultural solutions. Such shortcomings are one reason an ongoing drought in southern Africa has left 23m people dependent on food aid, with another 13m in need of help, according to the Southern African Development Community, which launched a €2.5bn emergency appeal in July.

Smart Technologies Key to Youth Involvement in Agriculture, 26/08/2016

She is only 24 and already running her father’s farm with 110 milking cows. Cornelia Flatten sees herself as a farmer for the rest of her life. “It’s my passion,” says the young German. “It is not just about the money but a way of life. My dream is to grow this farm and transform it to improve efficiency by acquiring at least two milking robots.” A graduate with a degree in dairy farming, Cornelia believes agriculture is an important profession to humanity, because “everyone needs something to eat, drink, and this requires every one of us to do something to make it a reality.” Simply put, this is a clarion call for increased food production in a world looking for answers to the global food problem where millions of people go hungry. And with the world population set to increase to over nine billion by 2050, production is expected to increase by at least 60 percent to meet the global food requirements—and must do so sustainably.

Food security in sub-Saharan Africa: a fresh look on agricultural mechanisation; how adapted financial solutions can make a difference
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), July 2016

Much of sub-Saharan Africa’s farmland is (still) cultivated with the hand hoe, and agricultural processing and transport are often done manually. This limits the potential of agriculture in the region. Mechanisation can help to alleviate food shortages and enhance agricultural development. However, this implies high levels of investment for farmers and some risks for rural populations and eco-systems. The necessary financing is especially difficult to access and risky for longer-term agricultural investments such as mechanisation. In addition, there can be trade-offs between mechanisation and employment. To better understand how mechanisation an contribute to food security, this study first assesses the controversial impact of mechanisation on rural populations and their environments. In a second step, the difficulty in accessing financing is analysed, distilling success factors for financing mechanisation. Thereby, the study aims at bringing the sectors of agriculture and finance closer together with the overall objective of fighting food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tractor Assembly to Begin At Makeshift Factory in Kibaha, 26/07/2016

The government is looking for temporary premises to begin tractor assembling by Polish tractor firm, Ursus S. A, as construction of an assembling plant is scheduled to begin this financial year at Kibaha in Coast Region. The Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Adelhem Meru, confirmed to the ‘Daily News’ yesterday that the project, which is part of a 110 million US dollars soft loan from Poland, would begin at a temporary location while construction plans for an assembling factory were being finalised. “We are looking for a temporary premise for assembling work to begin immediately before the construction of the plant starts,” he said over the phone on the planned tractor assembling plant billed to be one of the largest factories of its kind in East Africa.

Precision farming – the way to go for Africa, 26/07/2016

It is not wise and sustainable to continue practising conventional agricultural methods, such as ploughing and loosening the soil before planting as it puts stress on land resources and is worsened by effects of climate change, says global agricultural experts who convened in Brussels, Belgium, last week. The meeting brought together participants from the ACP-EU (Caribbean and Pacific countries and the European Union) technical centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the European Commission, the EU Presidency, the ACP Group, Concord, and other partners on key issues and challenges for rural development in the context of EU-ACP cooperation. The participants, who attended the meeting titled “Affordable smart farming solutions for Africa: the next driver for African agriculture” on 13 July 2016, recommended farmers to use soil management techniques such as conservation agriculture to increase productivity as that reduces soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotation.

Smart and Affordable farming solutions, 22/07/2016

This Briefing was organised by the ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), in collaboration with the European Commission, the the European Commission / DEVCO, the ACP Secretariat, CONCORD, CEMA, Agricord and the PanAfrican Farmer’s Organisation (PAFO). Panel 1: Setting the scene: Drivers of smart-farming in Africa This panel discussed the available tools and approaches in support of smart-farming which can benefit the smallholders. It will also discuss public-private partnerships (PPPs) and multi-stakeholder alliances that aim at accelerating investments and transformative change in African agriculture.

Global Precision Farming Market 2016 Share, Trend, Segmentation and Forecast to 2020, 19/07/2016

Precision Agriculture involves systems, services and activities that collect, monitor, track, manipulate and analyse data pertaining to agriculture and farming namely information about the soil, crop, water, climate, yield, nutrients and other environmental factors. More so, the technology primarily handles the variability in the above mentioned factors. Precision Agriculture not only ensures efficient use of resources, maximizes output and profitability, but also provides a sustainable solution to farm management practices. The global precision farming market which is projected to witness CAGR of 12.64% over the period 2014 to 2020, will cross $ 5.5 billion in total market value by the end of forecast period.

Improved infrastructure ‘will make Africa more competitive’, 18/07/2016

New efforts by the Africa to develop key infrastructure facilities on the continent will help attract new investments and accelerate economic growth, as well as ease challenges faced by women. The Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), spearheaded by the African Union Commission (AUC), is the first master plan that has been supported by all AU members to guide infrastructure development on the continent. Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing 27th African Union Summit in Kigali on Friday, Elham Mahmood Ibrahim, the AU commissioner for infrastructure and energy, said improving the continent’s infrastructure will play a huge role of helping Africa realise its immense potential, ensure sustainable growth, and reduce poverty and income inequality among the masses.

FAO: The EU has a role in Africa’s agriculture mechanisation, 15/07/2016

What are the main challenges of Africa’s mechanisation? Several unsuccessful efforts were made in the past, what is different now? Let’s start from the colonial times. When African countries became independent, either from French, English or to a smaller extent, Belgian rule, there was something left behind in the case of the British system; which was the public sector control of agriculture, including farm mechanisation services. So, it was part of the agriculture ministry’s business to provide farmers with services. African countries continued this approach, although it was heavily subsided by loans from the World Bank, and the whole process was getting very expensive and inefficient. There were public servants providing services for the mechanisation sector. But, for instance, they stopped working at 17:00 on Friday, and therefore there were no services provided on Saturday morning. These things normally do not happen in the private sector.