Mechanization is a multifaceted concept that is widely used in agriculture. However, there is a significant difference in the implementation of mechanization in developed and developing nations. Given the obstacles they face in all aspects of their economy, including feeding a growing population, reducing poverty, protecting the environment, managing the effects of climate change, and combating malnutrition, developing countries tend to design their food security strategies, which may contribute to a reduction in economic growth and political instability. The strategy's goal is to lead to sustainable agricultural development and, ultimately, food security through the use of relevant technologies.
Mechanization is used for more than just tilling the land; it is also used for planting, harvesting, processing, and storing produce. Increased levels of mechanization will boost social and economic processes in both on-farm and off-farm roles in rural communities. By reducing the drudgery of farm work and improving yields, mechanization will not only result in increased employment, but will also improve land management, productivity, and crop quality.
One of the benefits of mechanized agriculture is that it has the potential to attract young people to farms and help to reduce Africa's high youth unemployment, which accounts for roughly 60% of the total unemployed. A harvester or tractor can prepare a field for planting in eight hours which would take 40 days to prepare by hand. Renting a harvester is also less expensive than hiring farm labor. It may seem counterintuitive in these markets with low labor costs, but paying a human to do this is still much more expensive than a harvester.
Labor is also becoming increasingly scarce as more Africans migrate to cities and existing farmers retire. Using a tractor can assist farmers in planting fields in time for rain, and because planting with a tractor is more consistent than planting by hand, it can also improve yields; however, governments must increase investments in the sector.
It is time for the continent to reconsider; it must abandon the hoe and cutlass in favor of modern technology, which will perform the same tasks far more efficiently. Without mechanized agriculture, productivity suffers greatly, resulting in lower farm earnings. Technologies to achieve Africa's green revolution exist but are mostly dormant. The challenge is a lack of supportive policies to ensure that they are implemented on a large enough scale to reach millions of farmers.
To achieve long-term food security, here are a few recommendations for the agricultural sector based on the identified factors:
As a critical step toward increasing productivity, African countries should develop national agricultural mechanization investment plans.
Successful mechanization will be critical in addressing major challenges on the continent, such as spiraling food import costs and widespread rural unemployment.
To ensure that affordable and appropriate technology is used, public-private partnerships should be used to develop local machinery industries.
Tax breaks and smart subsidies are being used to encourage the private sector to invest in mechanization.