Agricultural mechanization in semi-arid areas: findings from low –land Machakos District
This study examines the role of mechanization in agricultural production under semi-arid conditions, drawing on findings from low land Machakos District. The complementarity between hydrological, biological, chemical and mechanical inputs is emphasised; to underline the desirability of a package approach in introducing innovations needed in expanding agricultural production; to provide a framework within which mechanical innovations must be viewed. On the basis of the relative factor scarcities both from the national and individual farmers' point of view as well as the size distribution of the individual operating units and the availability of financial resources at the farm level,g theoretical range of the form of farm machinery that would be consistent with efficient resource allocation as well as being feasible and both technically and economically efficient has been constructed. The characteristic of such machines should include labour augmenting properties, in view of the relative abundance of labour, be able to fit in small operating units in view of the small sizes of the typical farms, be accessible to farmers with limited financial resources and involve minimal risk of financial losses in such areas as under study where crop failures are frequent. In concrete terms, an intermediate mechanical technology roughly covering animal drought and or small motorized implements would seem desirable. (ii) It has been found that the predominant use of animal drought in these areas is consistent with the postulated relevant technology. The contribution of mechanization to agricultural production can be viewed through the extent of cultivated areas. It has been suggested that the expansion of cultivated areas would increase potential outputs. While the technology in use is relevant, there are marginal improvements that could increase its effectiveness. Such factors as the use of more appropriate implements e.g. the ard or tine instead of the heavy all steel mouldboard plough and greater attention to selection training and breeding of task animals would greatly improve the effectiveness of the animal based technology.