Skip to content

After decades of neglect, agricultural mechanisation is back on the development agenda in Africa. Taking the mechanisation efforts of Ghana as an example, this paper analyses the governance challenges involved in government and private sector efforts to promote mechanisation in smallholderbased farming systems. To identify these governance challenges, this paper develops a conceptual framework that combines the agricultural innovation system approach with the concepts of New Institutional Economics. Two qualitative empirical methods were used to apply the framework: the Net-Map technique, which is a participatory mapping tool, and expert / key informant interviews. The results show that next to well-known problems such as market failures concerning access to spare-parts supplies and credit, mechanisation is constrained by missing institutions, particularly those that would be required to ensure adequate skill development of tractor-operators and technicians. In addition, exchange rate fluctuations and impeding customs practices prevent stronger private sector involvement in mechanisation. Governance challenges such as political interest and elite capture were found to limit the effectiveness of government imports of tractors and machinery. The findings suggest that instead of focusing on the supply of subsidised machinery, the government could be more effective by investing in institutional development to strengthen the agricultural innovation system for mechanisation and to support emerging private sector initiatives.

Published in Food Security 9 : 959–979