Small-scale farmers and large machines: The why and how of agricultural mechanisation in Ghana

Policy brief

  • Despite the small farm sizes and large investment required for agricultural machinery, cereal-producing farmers in Ghana have widely adopted tractor plowing.
  • This brief uses a case study of Yendi district to understand how the sharing of tractor service works, and the impact that tractor use has on the use of labour and other inputs.
  • The research finds that the private market for tractor service relies upon strong family and social networks to overcome the coordination problem at the core of the market – namely, how to order service provision given transport costs and localised rainfall patterns.
  • Improving the timeliness of land preparation is a greater motivation for machinery use than labour replacement.
  • The authors outline five policy implications to guide the targeting of future government support to mechanisation, and to consider the bottlenecks and environmental consequences created by mechanised land preparation.