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African farm systems are the least mechanized of all continents. This is a concern, since low levels of mechanization are associated with low levels of labor productivity, a key determinant of farmers’ incomes (Fuglie & Rada, 2013). However, with the re-emergence of agriculture on Africa’s development agenda, there is now renewed interest in agricultural mechanization. Governments aim to overcome “hoe and cutlass” type of farming to making agriculture attractive to the youth, donors are increasingly fundind mechanization-related projects and machinery companies have discovered Africa as an emerging market.

The renewed interest in agricultural mechanization has been fueled by increasing evidence that access to labor limits development for many smallholder farmers (Baudron et al., 2019; Diao et al., 2014; Nin-Pratt & McBride, 2014). Indeed, studies suggest that once farms are mechanized, farmers would benefit greatly from agriculture, for example, by being able to increase their farm incomes (Adu-Baffour et al., 2019; Kirui, 2019). But there are still unanswered questions by scholars regarding African agricultural mechanization. This leaves policymakers and practitioners ill-equipped to design good policies and programs. These questions include: What are the best options for the mechanization of smallholder production and processing systems from economic and institutional perspectives? What are the roles of the private sector and the state? What knowledge and skills are needed to promote mechanization? What are the effects of mechanization on rural employment?

Published as FARA Research Report Volume 5 No: 19 (2020).