Agricultural mechanization helps in increasing production, productivity and profitability in agriculture by achieving timeliness in farm operations, bringing precision in metering and placement of inputs, reducing available input losses, increasing utilization efficiency of costly inputs (seed, chemical, fertilizer, irrigation, water etc.), reducing unit cost of produce, enhancing profitability and competitiveness in the cost of operation. It also helps in the conservation of the produce and byproducts from qualitative and quantitative damages; enables value addition and establishment of agro processing enterprises for additional income and employment generation from farm produce. It is one of the important inputs to usher in all round development in the rural Kenya.
The need to increase agricultural output of food and non-food products while at the same time improving labour productivity on-farm and in the value chains requires that agricultural manpower has access to tools, equipment and machinery to carry out farm operations efficiently from the view point of financial and capital costs as well as social and environmental costs.
Farm power is determined by a combination of the source of energy (e.g. manual, or animal traction, or motorized ) and the tools and equipment utilized to carry of farm operations.
To improve and maintain competitiveness and keep consumer price as low as possible, cost of production must be kept low too.
One major approach to achieving this is through mechanization and effective demand for agriculture products improve and greater volumes are needed to meet local and international demand for food, feed and industrial raw materials.
As Kenyan economy diversify, grow and offer greater economic opportunities in the non-agricultural sectors, there will be a continuing need to for labour-saving mechanical technologies to supplement decreasing labour supply and off-set rising labour costs.
In situations where family labour remains the main source of farm power, there is also a need to reduce labour requirement and improve labour productivity as well as total output so that any child labour and drudgery can be eliminated and generating employment for hired labour becomes possible.
Thus, agricultural mechanization that improves farm power and labour as well as total productivity is not an isolated activity but is part of a complex array of interactions between numerous stakeholders both on-farm as well as in supply chains.
Besides agronomic, technical, environmental and social aspects there is also an important role played by institutional aspects such as agricultural education, extension and research.
The rural infrastructure, domestic supply chains and service providers, and local manufacturers and world markets in equipment and machinery are all of vital importance.
The demand for sustainable mechanization and services will continue to rise naturally with a growing population’s demand for food, feed and biological industrial raw materials from agriculture, particularly in view of the rural out- migration taking place and as the younger generation responds to economic opportunities in the agricultural service sectors and non- agriculture sectors, and in the growing urban centres for employment and improved quality of life.
Indeed there are already labour shortages at critical stages in the cropping calendar in many developing countries.
What is now increasingly important is to encourage sustainable private sector development that can offer farmers the right choice of technology at the right price to increase agricultural productivity to support rural economic development, contribute to local and national food security, reduce post-harvest losses and promote local manufacturing of equipment and machinery.
BENEFITS OF AGRICULTURAL MECHANIZATION
- To enable the new technology in production applications.
- Production is dependent on natural conditions as possible to recover and to get more qualified products.
- Manufacturing operations in the most appropriate time to complete, without delay to avoid losses resulting product.
- Working conditions in rural areas more comfortable, attractive and safe to bring a case and agricultural workers to improve work efficiency.
- On the one hand, increase in agricultural products, on the other hand, developments in agricultural tools industry with the opening of new jobs to the area to allow.
- Human and animal agricultural operations cannot be achieved with power to machine power, and new areas for agriculture and managed to make up.
This article was originally published in Farmer’s Trend.