During the last decade, governments, private actors as well as civil society and development partners have joined efforts to promote a productivity revolution in Africa’s agriculture. For this, smallholder farmers are key, since 70% of the farms in Africa operate on less than two hectares. Typically, they do not realize more than 25% of their potential yields. To unlock this underutilized potential, policymakers have turned to agricultural mechanization more recently. However, agricultural mechanization always has been controversially discussed. One concern is that mechanization causes rural unemployment. Another concern is that multi-national agribusiness companies take advantage of smallholder farmers. To shed light on these concerns, this policy brief summarizes economic, social and environmental impacts from a private business model that aims to enable “emerging” medium-size farms to provide mechanization services to smallholder farmers in Zambia.
This Policy Brief is based on the study: Adu-Baffour, F., Daum, T., & Birner, R. (2019). Can small farms benefit from big companies’ initiatives to promote mechanization in Africa? A case study from Zambia.