Farmers, mainly small scale farmers, will soon have access to agricultural mechanisation equipment such as tractors thanks to the new framework that has been developed between Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and African Union (AU). The aim of the framework is to increase agricultural production through mechanization.
The framework, code named Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization: A Framework for Africa (SAMA), will support farmers in addressing challenges and creating new opportunities to ensure the successful mechanization of farming by the less privileged farmers.
Commenting on the new development between the two agencies, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Sacko said agricultural production especially among the small scale farmers was declining because majority use traditional methods of production.
He observed that the new frame work will uplift farmers’ productivity thus eliminating hunger.
“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,” Josefa Sacko he said.
On her side, the deputy Director General of FAO Maria Helena Semedo said that most farmers in sub-Saharan Africa prepare their lands using only hand tools, a practice that leads to poor productivity, deters the youth and is incompatible with the continent’s Zero Hunger goal.
“Farmers in Africa should be able to use modern agricultural technology, both digital and mechanical, to boost the agricultural sector in a sustainable way,” she said.
What the frame work Intends to do
The new framework has identifies 10 priority areas for AU member states to include in their national plans, ranging from the need for a stable supply of machine spare parts and innovative financing mechanisms, to the importance of regional collaborations that allow for cross-border hiring of services.
The framework notes that successful national mechanization strategies will address key sustainability issues including gender, youth, environmental protection and the overarching principle that farming must be profitable.
It also emphasizes that these strategies should cover the entire agri-food value chain, including harvesting, handling, processing and food safety aspects, with an eye to reducing food losses, boosting rural employment and bolstering the links between farmers and consumers.
Today, smaller and more affordable machinery, such as two-wheel tractors are available, hiring services using digital technologies are proving popular around the continent, underscoring how the sharing of capital assets can be leveraged to achieve greater scale and access to modern tools.
The framework notes that cross-border initiatives – for dealers, supply networks and tractor operators – can allow for viable scale and greater utilization.
Another key consideration is farm profitability. This can be fostered by giving access to markets, credit and land tenure a visible role in mechanization policies.
The framework has been designed to contribute to the pledges made in the African Union’s Malabo Declaration and Agenda 2063, and to do so in a way that is private-sector driven, environmentally smart, affordable and friendly to smallholder farmers.
Its implementation will require significant contributions from other stakeholders, including public institutions and private actors such as the European Agricultural Machinery Industries Association (CEMA), which has just renewed its partnership with FAO to work on issues related to sustainable mechanization strategies in developing countries.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO