Evolution of agricultural mechanization in Kenya from 1992– 2012
Evolution of agricultural mechanization
in Kenya from 1992– 2012
Hugo De Groote, Charles Marangu, Zachary Gitonga
Addis Ababa, October 31, 2017
• Despite recent economic growth in Africa,
– poverty levels remain alarmingly high
– most people still live in rural areas,
– food production cannot keep pace with the rapidly
– agricultural intensification is therefore urgently needed.
• Africa has made progress in:
– Adoption of improved crop varieties: good
– Adoption of fertilizer and irrigation (land-saving
– Adoption of mechanization and farm implements (land
saving technologies): remains low.
– We have few recent studies on the topic in Africa
• In this study:
– an analysis of the evaluation of agricultural
mechanization in Kenya over the last 20 years.
• Drivers of agricultural intensification
– increasing population,
– need for increased food production on a fixed land area (Boserup, 1965)
– Technology development towards the scarcest resources (Ruttan and Hayami,
• Mechanization: replacement of human labor by machinery, so:
– where labor is scarce: ex. Increasing urbanization
– where land is abundant: settler communities of North America, but also in East
and Southern Africa (ESA)
• Recent evolution in ESA:
– population grows rapidly,
– land becomes scarce and labor abundant.
– structural transformation is taking place: from rural to urban, driven by economic
development and job opportunities in the cities.
– when rural labor moves to the cities, and the economy is sufficiently strong to
absorb them and pay increasing wages, labor will become scarce in rural areas.
• Data: four representative household surveys
conducted by CIMMYT over the last 20 years
• Analysis of farm implements by rural households in
the last survey (2013), and their geographical
• Analysis of evolution of mechanization by tracing
adoption of tractors, plows and oxenover the four
studyies (1992, 2002, 2010, and 2013)
• Logistic regression to analyze the factors that affect
the adoption of these three factors (2013)
• All studies: stratified 2-stage
• Strata: 6 maize AEZs
• PSU: EA or sublocations
• SSU: households
• Most implements: hand tools.
• First mechanical device: bicycle
• Modern farm implements:
knapsack sprayer (46%) and
• Solar panels coming up (17%)
• Mechanization, ox-plow (28%),
few carts (8%), fewer tractors
Evolution of farm mechanisation from
1992 to 2012
• Oxen: introduced by
European and South
African settlers in 19th-20th
century, who switched to
the use of tractors.
• After independence, large
settler farms taken over by
• Many subdivided
• Animal traction was
promoted from colonial
times in the African
• Relative importance of
tractors and oxen over
the zones remains
over the years.
• Tractors mostly in the
highlands, likely from
colonial history, on
• Oxen and oxen plows
mostly in the dry and
• Trajectories over time
are similar in the
• Proportion of farmers
with tractors is
• Proportion of farmers
with oxen and plows is
Evolution by Zone
Factors affecting adoption (2013)
Constant Constant -7.29 *** -4.55 *** -4.21 ***
Head Age of household head (years) 0.04 * 0.00 0.02 ***
Household head is Male -0.37 0.54 -0.25
Head education (years) 0.04 0.01 0.03 *
Marital status Married but spouse away 0.59 0.88 *** 0.45
Divorced/separated 0.00 0.18 -1.00
Widow/widower 0.38 0.50 -0.34
Hopusehold Adult Equivalent 0.14 0.15 *** 0.15 ***
Tropical Livestock units 0.00 0.16 *** 0.11 ***
Total land (Acres) 0.03 ** -0.02 *** 0.00
Number of extention contacts 0.00 0.01 *** 0.01 ***
Total income (1000.000KES) 0.81 ** -2.18 *** -1.41 ***
% land owned 0.56 0.34 0.53
planting fertilizer (1=Yes; 0=No) 0.16 0.10 0.10
topdressing fertilizer (0=No; 1=Yes) 0.98 -0.70 *** -0.56 ***
Marketing Distance to main market (km) 0.02 0.00 -0.01
Percent of own maize sold 1.03 1.64 *** 1.51 ***
Agroecological Dry mid altitude -1.95 ** 1.58 *** 2.19 ***
Dry transitional -2.25 ** 0.80 1.11 ***
Moist transitional -2.51 *** 0.34 0.40
High tropics -1.07 -1.69 *** -1.75 ***
Moist mid altitudes -2.54 ** 1.07 ** 0.90 **
Tractor Trained oxen Ox plough
• Adoption levels of agricultural mechanization in Kenya remain low
– In 2012, most farm households used only hand tools, about half use bicycles,
knapsack sprayers or a wheelbarrows.
– About a quarter had a plow (28%), few a tractor (2%).
– None of the interviewed farmers owned two-wheel tractors.
• From 1992 to 2012,
– % farmers with trained oxen increased from 17% to 33%,
– % with tractors decreased from 5% to 2%.
• Tractors vs. Oxen
– Tractors were most important in the highlands,
– Animal traction was most popular in the dry areas, moist mid-altitudes
– Relative differences between zones remained, all zones followed the same trend.
• Factors that affect mechanization differ for tractors and animal traction.
– Tractors: increased with household income, acreage and age of the hh head.
– Animal traction: increases with income and age of the household head, but
decreases with land area. Further, adoption of animal traction is higher in
households where the husband is away, and increases with sales of maize,
livestock, family size, and access to extension. Finally, adoption of animal
traction is negatively correlated with the top dressing of fertilizer.
Discussion on Methods
• Definitions: distinctions should be made
– between ownership, access and use (through ownership or rental services)
of the different farm implements and draught animals
– between oxen plows and tractor plows,
– between different types of carts (oxen, donkey, or hand cart).
– between oxen and trained oxen, and donkeys should be included.
• Other mechanization elements should be included:
– weeding implements, to be used with draught animals,
– shelling equipment
• Other factors of intensification: mechanical milling,
irrigation, electricity, ... should be included in studies
• Agricultural mechanization is making progress in Kenya, but through oxen, not tractors.
• On tractors:
– The proportion of farmers owning tractors is decreasing.
– Farming systems have not yet reach the intensification levels required.
– Two-wheel tractors are substantially cheaper, but still high, require fuel and maintenance, so their
profitability needs to be carefully assessed.
• Animal traction
– Has received little attention from rural development projects and extension agencies.
– From our analysis, animal traction is not linked to farm size; it does not reduce labor but rather
complements it; it helps reduce the use of chemical fertilizer, and helps to engage in commercial
– There is still a large potential for expanding animal traction, in particular, in the highlands: large
farm areas, for crops and pasture, low population density, high levels of commercialization.
– Negative elements in the highlands: only one season, no grazing areas, no mixted purpose cattle
– Adoption increases with extension, so continued trainingand research and dissemination is
– Animal traction is not indicated in areas with high population density, small farms and little pasture,
in particular the moist transitional zone.