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Agri-hire in sub-Saharan Africa

Business models for investing in sustainable mechanization










Houmy, K., Flores Rojas, M. and Side, C.2021. Agri-hire in sub-Saharan Africa – Business models for investing in sustainable mechanization. Rome, FAO. 




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    Book (series)
    Use of information and communications technology tools for tractor hire services in Africa
    Opportunities and challenges
    2020
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    This publication discusses the role information and communications technology (ICT) plays in agricultural mechanization, which has the potential to transform and improve smallholder agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Although mechanization levels tend to be low in African countries, there is still evidence of demand for mechanization services from smallholder farmers, especially tractor hire services. Where such demand exists, tractor owners have formed private hiring markets to provide the required services. The main challenge is related to high transaction costs – incurred by farmers due to information distortion concerning the availability of tractor hire services and how to access them, and by tractor owners due to the difficulties locating farmers in need of their services and aggregating demand over distant, scattered, smallholder farm plots. The use of ICT tools in tractor hire services may help solve some of these challenges. In recent years, many start-ups and companies have begun applying an ICT approach with the creation of a smart tractor network accessible via Short Message Services (SMS) or mobile phone applications, either directly or indirectly. This paper seeks to identify the benefits and challenges of such approaches by examining three ICT-based models in different African countries (Hello Tractor in Nigeria, Tinga Rentals Store in Kenya and TROTRO Tractor in Ghana).
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Empowering women farmers
    A mechanization catalogue for practitioners
    2022
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    Rural women across the world work along agri-food value chains performing numerous agricultural operations. Their work is increasingly affected by land degradation, climate change impacts, and out-migration. It is often unrecognized, unqualified, and unpaid. Moreover, the traditional division of labor often relegates women to manual, time-consuming operations with high degrees of drudgery. The combination of family responsibilities and insufficient access to critical services, information, and technologies, affects women’s work burden and their potential for income generation. For example, fewer rights over land make it more difficult for women to access subsidies, finance, or mechanization. There are three ways in which sustainable mechanization can empower women and respond to their needs:
    • as customers of mechanization service providers - reducing their drudgery, and freeing up time for resting or opting for other social or economic activities;
    • as operators of machinery and equipment or staff of a mechanization hiring services business - offering their service to others to earn an income;
    • as entrepreneurs managing their own mechanization hiring services agribusiness - providing a service for other farmers and generating revenue.
    The goal of this catalogue is to promote and support women’s access to sustainable agricultural mechanization as operators and/or managers. It lists and provides information on market-tested machinery and equipment for crop production and post-harvest operations. This catalogue highlights the potential for smallholder farmers, including women, to earn an income via mechanization hire service. The information for each machine or equipment includes:
    • its function
    • its main features
    • what it is suitable for
    • its technical specifications (key features only)
    • where to buy
    • its pictures.
    The target audience includes extensionists, gender experts, agricultural engineers, government officials, donors, micro-finance institutions, and implementing partners seeking to:
    • promote inclusive agricultural mechanization interventions;
    • reduce women’s drudgery and improve the efficiency of tasks they perform;
    • address gender issues in agriculture;
    • support economic opportunities for women as entrepreneurs.
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    Document
    Consultative Meeting on Mechanization Strategy: New Models for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization in sub-Saharan Africa 2017
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    Sustainable agricultural mechanization (SAM) is an essential input for the development of the smallholder farm sector in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The benefits of SAM range from drudgery reduction to improved timeliness of agricultural operations, increased input use efficiency, facilitating sustainable production intensification, ensuring environmental protection, and contributing to make agriculture more ‘climate-smart’. SAM is also important at other levels of the food supply system, for exam ple in post-harvest operations, processing, marketing and transportation. Previously in SSA, mechanization efforts were largely been driven by the public sector. Today there is a need, with appropriate social and natural environmental considerations, to adopt a more holistic view of what mechanization is and learn from the errors made in the past. A cornerstone of SAM is the importance of involving the private sector (especially machinery manufacturers, suppliers and service providers). It needs to be brought to the forefront in SAM development and provision, but without neglecting the important role that the public sector and its institutions can also play. The Consultative Meeting provided a platform to discuss SAM in general, SAM strategies and implementation options, experiences and recommended concrete lines of future action for SSA. Lessons learned from Asia and past experiences in SSA were presented, as well as various models for SAM collaboration and diffusion in SSA. This plat form allowed to better understand appropriate policies that may be required to support and promote the implementation of SAM at regional and national level within SSA. A special focus was placed on three key areas which were the subject of debate and discussion in three working groups. These were: (i) new collaborative models of public-private partnerships; (ii) modalities and approaches for establishing a global SAM knowledge exchange platform and; (iii) the establishment of regional centres or networks for SAM in SSA. The Meeting also received feedback on the on-going FAO-African Union Commission technical cooperation project that is seeking to develop a SAM strategy framework for SSA.

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