Food Security

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 889–904 | Cite as

Re-examining appropriate mechanization in Eastern and Southern Africa: two-wheel tractors, conservation agriculture, and private sector involvement

  • Frédéric Baudron
  • Brian Sims
  • Scott Justice
  • David G. Kahan
  • Richard Rose
  • Saidi Mkomwa
  • Pascal Kaumbutho
  • John Sariah
  • Raymond Nazare
  • Girma Moges
  • Bruno Gérard
Original Paper


The need for sustainable intensification in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) is widely recognized as a requirement to achieve food security with minimum negative social and environmental consequences. In current Research & Development programs, much emphasis is placed on increasing the efficiency with which land, water and nutrients are used, whereas farm power appears to be a ‘forgotten resource’. This is a major concern when farm power in ESA countries is declining due to the collapse of most tractor hire schemes, the decline in number of draught animals and the growing shortage of human labour. A consequence of low levels of farm mechanization is high labour drudgery, which makes farming unattractive to the youth and disproportionally affects women. Undoubtedly, sustainable intensification in ESA will require an improvement in access to farm power. In this paper, we suggest this can be achieved through the use of small, multipurpose and inexpensive power sources such as two-wheel tractors (2WTs) coupled with the promotion of energy saving technologies such as conservation agriculture (CA), whilst ensuring the profitability for farmers, service providers and other private sector actors in the supply chain. We argue that appropriate mechanization in Africa, a paradigm largely abandoned three decades ago, may be re-examined through the combination of these three elements.


Power tiller Drudgery Intensification Reduced tillage No tillage Business model 



This research was funded by AIFSRC (Australian International Food Security Research Centre) through the project ‘Farm Power and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification’ (FACASI,, by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) through the project ‘Africa Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation’ (Africa RISING, and by MAIZE CRP (


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frédéric Baudron
    • 1
  • Brian Sims
    • 2
  • Scott Justice
    • 3
  • David G. Kahan
    • 1
  • Richard Rose
    • 4
  • Saidi Mkomwa
    • 5
  • Pascal Kaumbutho
    • 6
  • John Sariah
    • 7
  • Raymond Nazare
    • 8
  • Girma Moges
    • 9
  • Bruno Gérard
    • 10
  1. 1.CIMMYT-EthiopiaAddis AbabaEthiopia
  2. 2.FAO Mechanization Consultant and Engineering for DevelopmentBedfordUK
  3. 3.CIMMYT-NepalKhatmanduNepal
  4. 4.iDE-BangladeshDhakaBangladesh
  5. 5.ACTNairobiKenya
  6. 6.KENDATNairobiKenya
  7. 7.SARIArushaTanzania
  8. 8.UZHarareZimbabwe
  9. 9.EIARAddis AbabaEthiopia
  10. 10.CIMMYT-MexicoEl BatanMexico

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