Advancing Agricultural Mechanization in Africa


Agricultural mechanization levels (i.e. the use of machinery in farming) differ dramatically across the globe: while, on average, 700-1,850 tractors are used per 1,000 farmers in Europe and Northern America, exceptionally low levels of mechanization persist in many developing countries: a mere 3-6 tractors are in operation per 1,000 farmers in China, Africa or India (see illustration).

Africa remains the most challenging region for mechanization. In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), land productivity is among the lowest in the world, and Agricultural Mechanization has either stagnated or retrogressed in recent years. In SSA countries:

  • over 60% of farm power is still provided by people’s muscles, mostly from women, the elderly and children
  • only 25% of farm power is provided by drudge animals
  • less than 20% of mechanization services are provided by engine power


Machines are a central indispensable pillar to make farm operations efficient and productive as they determine much of the efficiency and productivity of all the other inputs used in crop production such as seeds, fertilizer, water, labour, and time.

Advancing agricultural mechanization can help to improve overall agricultural productivity, profitability of farming, and rural livelihoods in developing countries, particularly at the backdrop of increasing demand for food and fuel with demographic dynamics, accelerated urbanization, climate change, and constraints of land and water resources.

In order to exert the full potential of agricultural mechanization in developing countries the public and the private sector need work together to nurture an adequate enabling environment that allows the largely self-sustaining private sector (consisting of manufacturers, distributors and dealers, and service providers) to develop and operate effectively.



CEMA calls on the EU and related actors in African development policy private to:

  • integrate Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization Strategies (SAMS) firmly into agriculture-for-development agendas and development policy for Africa
  • devise SAMS that follow a tailored, inclusive and integrated approach

“If we want agricultural mechanization to succeed in Africa, all concerned – be they farmers, supporters, planners or policy-makers – need to work together. The EU can and should play a stronger role in this task.”


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Mechanization in Africa