Increasing productivity using agricultural machinery in East Africa

Mechanised agriculture has supported agribusinesses to improve farm productivity and incomes.

Crop in Uganda

According to the United Nations (UN), more than a quarter of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is currently undernourished. Crop production needs to increase by 260% by 2050 to feed the continent’s projected population growth. The UN recommends Africa’s agriculture undergo significant transformation to meet the simultaneous challenges of climate change, food insecurity, poverty, and environmental degradation. Innovative climate smart agriculture (CSA) practises and technologies are part of the solution.

To scale the adoption of proven CSA practises and technologies, the Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) Project  promotes the adoption of agricultural mechanisation services such as tractor hire services for ploughing and ripping, mobile threshing, shelling technologies, as well as motorised sprayers among smallholder farmers and Agribusinesses in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to improve farm productivity and incomes.

The project raises awareness about the value of the machines, ensures their availability by facilitating linkages between developers and project-supported food value chains, as well as improves their affordability by negotiating flexible financing between smallholder farmers, agribusinesses, and financial institutions.

Improving productivity in the soybean value chain

Not only has mechanised agriculture supported agribusinesses to improve farm productivity and incomes, but also reduced farmer labour needs, especially for women in high climatic risk areas, which saves time for other productive activities. Additionally, it has supported gender inclusion since many young people have taken advantage of the productivity and employment opportunities it provides in different value chain nodes in the region.

One good example is AgriNet Uganda Limited, a business case that CRAFT is working with in Uganda to scale out mechanisation in the soybean value chain. With the support of CRAFT, AgriNet has been able to procure agricultural machinery such as motorised threshers, hematic grain storage bins, tarpaulins and of late, a Soybean Extruder Machine that processes over six tonnes of soybean grains a day into quality oil used for human consumption.

From the Extruder alone, AgriNet generated USD 23,000 more than the previous season. Accordingly, the company was able to pay 4000 farmers who supplied the grains at a favourable price, compared to that of open markets/competitors. For the next season (November), AgriNet already contracted more 4000 farmers to grow enough soybeans that will meet its business ambitions.

Written by: Sandra Nassali (CRAFT Communications Officer)
More information: Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) is a five-year project, implemented in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with focus on three pillars; increasing adoption of climate smart practices and technologies amongst farmers and agro-enterprises; increasing investments and business growth in climate smart value chains; and creating enabling environment necessary to ensure large-scale roll-out of market driven climate smart agriculture. The project is passionate about women and youth inclusion as one of the indicators seeks to increase the number of women and youth employed in the private sector. The cross-cutting workstream for gender and youth inclusion emphasizes targeted interventions where needed, to ensure equity and inclusion through a sustainable gender sensitive climate smart service provision.