New AIFSC project: Farm power and conservation agriculture for sustainable intensification (FACASI)

Project team demonstrating a two-wheeled tractor at the project launch. Photo: CIMMYT
Friday, 12 April 2013

Much of the Research for Development work currently underway in Sub-Saharan Africa is focused on increasing the efficiency with which land, water and nutrients are being used. Farm power appears to be a ‘forgotten resource’ in the sustainable intensification equation. However farm power in SSA countries is declining due to the collapse of most tractor hire schemes, the decline in the number of draught animals and the decline in human labour (e.g. stemming from rural-urban migration, an ageing population and pandemics like HIV/AIDS). A consequence of low farm mechanisation is high labour drudgery, which affects women disproportionally (in, e.g. weeding, threshing, shelling and transport by head-loading). Undoubtedly, sustainable intensification in SSA will require an improvement of the farm power balance through increased power supply - via improved access to mechanisation - and/or reduced power demand via energy saving technologies such as conservation agriculture (CA).

The AIFSC is funding a new project which aims to identify appropriate small-scale machines (e.g. 2-wheel tractors) which can improve farming practices (such as planting, harvesting, milling and transporting). A major focus of the project is to identify the commercial mechanisms needed to make these 2-wheel tractors available to smallholder farmers. The project will identify opportunities to create new markets for equipment and services, and supporting policies and networks.

The inception workshop was held in Arusha Tanzania, 25-30 March, 2013. The inception workshop was attended by close to 40 participants including agronomists, agricultural engineers, economists, anthropologists, and private sector representatives from 12 countries was officially opened by Dr Lucas M Mugendi on behalf of the Director for Research and Development, MOA Tanzania. Ms Mellissa Woods (Director, AIFSC) and Dr John Dixon (Project Manager ACIAR) attended the workshop.

Find out more about the project on the project page.

Read CIMMYT’s Informa (File size: 868 KB) with an article on the launch.

Read the African Conservation Tillage Network newsletter (File Size: 1027 KB) with an article on the launch.