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Agricultural mechanization on is now high on the policy agenda of many African countries, yet few of these efforts emphasize the development of knowledge and skills (see PARI Policy Brief No. 5). However, without the appropriate knowledge and skills, using farm machinery is not very profi table. For example, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) found that more than 80% of the tractor-owners in Ghana regularly face long breakdowns of their equipment due to a lack of knowledge and skills on adequate operation on and maintenance. A look into history shows that fully mechanized countries such as the United States of America and Germany once faced similar problems.

This policy brief analyses how the United States and Germany built up the knowledge and skills needed for successful mechanization on and derives insights that are relevant for developing countries.

The policy brief is based on the study: Daum, Thomas; Huffman, Wallace E.; and Birner, Regina, “How to create conducive institutions to enable agricultural mechanization: A comparative historical study from the United States and Germany” (2018). Economics Working Papers: Department of Economics, Iowa State University. 18009.