Skip to content

The history of mechanisation in sub-Saharan Africa stretches back to the late 1800s when animal traction was used for production of cash crops such as cotton, rice, and groundnuts among others. In Kenya, mechanisation started with the use of animal traction on small holder farms in Nyanza in the 1920s. It spread further due to the introduction of tractors in the post-war years. Mechanisation describes the tools, implements and machines used to improve the productivity of farm labour and can be powered by hand and draft animals or motorised. Owing to a rapid population increase, it is critical to improve productivity of crops such as rice and bananas; this is possible through mechanisation and social – organisational innovations. Due to inadequacy of information on the level of mechanisation of the two crops, this study was initiated to assess the status, challenges, and prospects of agricultural mechanisation on rice and bananas in Kenya.

The study was conducted in Kirinyaga County on rice and bananas and in Kisumu County on rice. Results showed that in Ahero, mechanisation was mainly in land preparation, milling and transportation while in Mwea it was in land preparation, crop protection, harvesting, and milling. Mechanisation for bananas was in land preparation, irrigation, transportation and value addition. The main challenges were lack of information; planting by broadcasting seed; low prices of paddy rice; bird damage; and low-priced rice imports. Opportunities for rice and banana mechanisation exist; they include strengthening stakeholder configurations such as public-private partnerships, increased access to credit, regulation of rice imports, and standardisation of machinery imports. In conclusion, there is need for more mechanisation in critical rice and banana value chain production stages such as transplanting and weeding in rice and harvesting and value addition in bananas.

Published as FARA Research Results Vol 1(2)