Agricultural Mechanization: What Do
We Learn from Bangladesh?
M. A. SATTAR MANDAL
Emeritus Professor of Agricultural Economics
Bangladesh Agricultural University
A presentation delivered at the International Conference for South-South
Knowledge Sharing on Agricultural Mechanization, organized by the IFPRI,
CIMMYT and the Ethiopian Agricultural Mechanization Forum, held in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia on 31 October- 2 November, 2017.
Machines & mechanization drivers
Impact of mechanization
Bangladesh as a special case of rural
Context: Economy and Farm Structure
• 6% plus GDP growth, per capita income USD1602
(2016-17), target middle income status (USD 2000 per
capita) by 2021.
• Rice continues to dominate ag. growth, cultivated area 7
mha, decreasing at 0.43% pa.
• No. of farms increasing at 2% per year, av. farm size is
High degree of land fragmentation, 3.2 plots per farm,
av. size of plots 0.16 ha.
Ag. mechanization has spread rapidly.
STW provides 70% irrigation
70% STW owned by SF <1ha
About 90% land tilled
by 0.7 million power
tillers privately owned
Scarcity of farm labour, rising wage rate
Short turn around, quick land preparation & planting for
increasing cropping intensity
Increased production, quick harvest, to avoid loss during
Efficiency gains- cost reduction, quality of output
How Many Machines?
• Estimated total no. of engines used for ag.- 2.5 mil, 1.5
mil. STW irrigation engines
• 0.7 million power tillers, 35,000 tractors, 370,000
threshers, 400 rice transplanters, 500 reapers, 200
• Small machineries- 18,800 USG applicators, 1.3 mil.
sprayers, 0.25 mil. weeders, 40,000 jute ribboner, 320
solar pumps, 15,000 maize sheller, 50,000 sugarcane
crushers, 15,000 rice haulers, 2,000 dryer.
Bangladesh China India Thailand Vietnam
Growth of Farm Power (KW/ha) uses of
Mechanization Growth Promoters
Liberalization policies in the 1980s (specially following
1988 big floods) prompted import & distribution of low-
cost engines and farm equipment, incl. power tillers:
Tax exemption on ag. machinery import
Standardization certification waived or limited
Private sector encouraged in machinery import & sales
Preference for handy, durable, effective and affordable machines
Impact of Rapid Spread of Small Machines
Shallow tubewell no. & area irrigated spread
rapidly, accelerating food production, mainly rice.
PTs saved not only 85% labour and cost of tillage and
75% time, but also 100% bullock power, which is
becoming expensive to maintain.
Synergies between rural mechanization and rapid
growth of local workshops, mechanic services, rural
transports & small trades creating RNF employment.
Missing Links in Agricultural Mechanization
M A S Mandal, 2014, BAU
Links Being Joined- Reaper and Mini-Combines
Reapers saves 35% and mini combined harvester saves 52% cost
over manual harvesting (Ali, et al. 2017).
Reaper, 4.5-6.5hp, costs USD 2125, while mini-combine, 12.5-
20hp, costs USD 7000- 8750.
Farmers’ demand for mini-combine is higher than for reaper (3289
mini- combines against 2946 reapers during March-June 2017, DAE
50%-70% price subsidy & ag. credit expansion explains part of the
Growth of local service providers (LSP) and custom hire services
is becoming important.
M A S Mandal, 2017, BAU
Bangladesh Followed Small-scale Mechanization
• Bangladesh has not followed the green revolution model of
subsidized energy driven large-scale mechanization followed by
• Bangladesh’s strategies were to promote small-scale market led
machines to fit fragmented farm structure. Started with manual
irrigation i.e. hand tubewells, treadle pumps.
• Shift from public sector managed large-scale DTWs to more
efficient STWs irrigation by private sector.
• Irrigation mechanization led to other largely unsubsidized farm
equipment in the private sector.
18M A S Mandal, 2017, BAU
Why Bangladesh is a Special Case
• 1971 liberation war brought unity & motivation for development,
• Vibrant private sector, ag. engineering R&D capacity, jute industry,
machinery manufacturing hub, vocational manpower.
• Informed academic engagements on policy discourses enriched by
• Building agricultural & rural development institutions utilizing local
expertise and donor participation.
• Planning technology interventions based on local soil, water &
• Physical infrastructure, Intensive road network, rural electrification
& township, ICT facilitated spread of machines.
19M A S Mandal, 2017, BAU