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Contribution of farm power to smallholder livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa










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    Farm power and mechanization for small farms in sub-Saharan Africa 2006
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    In the past, many of the publications concerned with mechanization, draught animal power, hand-tool technology, etc. tended to be rather mono-topical, dealing with only one aspect of the subject. Farm power and mechanization also tended to be separated from the actual processes of crop production and processing; it was a topic created by engineers and was dealt with by engineers. As a result, there is a widespread lack of understanding of the subject, and there are many widely held mis conceptions with regard to the essential contribution of farm power and mechanization to small farmers’ productivity and livelihoods. In recent years, the Farm Power and Mechanization Group in FAO has broken away from this rather narrow approach and has put the different sources of farm power, mechanization, machinery, equipment and tools into a much broader context. We have looked at farm power from the perspective of rural livelihoods and farming systems, as well as the critical area of labour saving in HIV/AIDS and migrationaffected populations. We have purposely avoided taking rigid positions with regard to any one particular type of technology; instead, we have adopted a much wider brief and have been concerned to identify appropriate solutions for a range of situations.
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    Will promotion of agricultural mechanization help prevent child labour?
    Policy brief
    2021
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    The FAO-IFPRI study, of which this policy brief is a summary, focuses on the use of tractors because they are among the most versatile farm mechanization tools and are universal power sources for all other driven implements and equipment in agriculture, with significant potential to replace animal draught power and human power, including children’s muscle power. Tractor use is typically also the first type of machine-powered equipment in use at lower levels of agricultural development, the context where most child labour is found. Mechanization is mostly assumed to reduce child labour, as it is expected to be labour saving in general. Yet, this is not always the case, as it has also been observed that the use of tractors and other machinery could increase children’s engagement in farm activities. This may be the case if, for instance, their use allows farms to cultivate larger areas, or if it leads to shifting chores of work from hired labor to family workers, e.g. for weeding edges of farmland not reachable by machinery. Evidence has been scant thus far, but the few available studies have mostly lent greater support to the hypothesis that mechanization reduces children’s productive engagement. Most available studies have focused on specific cases and based on scant data. The new FAO-IFPRI study provides a rigorous quantitative assessment for seven developing countries in Asia (India, Nepal and Viet Nam) and sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania) based on comparable farm household survey data.
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    Agricultural mechanization and child labour in developing countries
    Background study
    2022
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    The FAO-IFPRI study, focuses on the use of tractors because they are among the most versatile farm mechanization tools and are universal power sources for all other driven implements and equipment in agriculture, with significant potential to replace animal draught power and human power, including children’s muscle power. Tractor use is typically also the first type of machine-powered equipment in use at lower levels of agricultural development, the context where most child labour is found. Mechanization is mostly assumed to reduce child labour, as it is expected to be labour saving in general. Yet, this is not always the case, as it has also been observed that the use of tractors and other machinery could increase children’s engagement in farm activities. This may be the case if, for instance, their use allows farms to cultivate larger areas, or if it leads to shifting chores of work from hired labor to family workers, e.g. for weeding edges of farmland not reachable by machinery. Evidence has been scant thus far, but the few available studies have mostly lent greater support to the hypothesis that mechanization reduces children’s productive engagement. Most available studies have focused on specific cases and based on scant data. The new FAO-IFPRI study provides a rigorous quantitative assessment for seven developing countries in Asia (India, Nepal and Viet Nam) and sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania) based on comparable farm household survey data.

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