Tanzania is essentially a land surplus country with a land area of 886,000 square kilometres and a potential arable area of about 45 million hectares. About 10 million hectares are under cultivation. The total population is about 47 million (as of 2015) growing at an annual rate of 2.6%. 70% of the population is rural but the urban population is growing at about 4-5% per annum. BY 2030 the urban population will comprise over 50% of the total population.
Tractors used on only 14% of cultivated land; draught animal power on 24% ; 62% relying on human muscle power through hand-tool technologies.
In some regions, however, land preparation by tractors has reached 48% of cultivated land, well above the national average. But nationally, the situation has largely remained at the same level since 2005 notwithstanding the fact that there has been a significant increase in imports of new tractors during the last decade. This may be an indication that older tractors are being replaced with new ones and it is not necessarily a case of fleet expansion.
READ SLIDE The economic structural adjustment program [ESAP] implemented from 1990 to 2005 opened up the economy to private sector investment. Public sector supported THS were privatised with the tractors sold to private operators. Due to financial austerity no new resources allocated for procurement of new machinery. Emphasis was placed on small holder farmer development shifted to appropriate technologies (incl. DAP) funded by donor agencies.
2005 – to date Tanzania has been implementing the Agricultural Sector Development Program [ASDP1- 2005-15]. Under the Tanzania Agricultural Mechanization Strategy [TAMS] developed with FAO & UNIDO assistance - provided a framework to guide interventions with an increased emphasis on private sector provision of THS.
The Tanzania Agricultural Mechanization Strategy [TAMS] rekindled the interest of the Tanzania Government in agricultural mechanization.
READ SLIDE Following the TAMS, the main mechanization policies have included trade and import policies (tariffs, direct restriction), promotion policies (subsidies), concessional loans, licensing, subsidies on parts and policies affecting financial support of machinery purchases and inputs.
Concessional loans and grants secured by the Government have played a significant role in increasing imports of agricultural machinery and implements. Agricultural window in the Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) Subsidization of procurement of 2WTs by farmers under the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy [ASDS, 2001]. $40 million concessionary credit from the Indian Government to import and distribute 1800 units of 4WTs to farmers (2010 and 2011)
“Kilimo Kwanza” (Agriculture First) was a homegrown policy which targeted agricultural growth and transformation: It was implemented through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives and with strong private-public partnership and covered activities which accommodated small-scale mechanization using 2WT and 4WT to facilitate commercial production.
In response to the Kilimo Kwanza policy, the Agriculture Inputs Trust Fund (AGITF) redirected its efforts towards supporting the purchase of farm implements and tractors by providing credit to farmers on concessionary terms.
Private Agricultural Sector Support (PASS) + AGITF + establishment of Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank eased bottlenecks in credit availability.
Peasant Subsistence Farmers [PSFs] cultivating less than 2ha. Rely on family labour and hand-tool technology for all field land preparation and crop husbandry tasks. They may hire tractors or draft animal power for land preparation esp. to break the hard pan if the hire cost is affordable.
Small-Scale Commercial Farmers [SSCFs] cultivate 2 to 10 ha of land - normally use draft animal power for land preparation [either owned or for hire] or tractors [2WT either owned or for hire] and/or [4WT for hire]. Other mechanized operations - planting for maize; harvesting for paddy; shelling and threshing for maize & paddy].
Medium-Scale Farmers [MSFs]: cultivate more than 10 ha and up to 50 ha. Normally own their own 2WT and/or 4WT and an assortment of implements. Where there are assured hire services these farmers may rely on hired services.
Large-Scale Farmers [LSFs]: cultivating more than 50 ha and up to 2000 ha and normally own a complete range of 4WT with their own mix of implements
It is estimated that the small scale farming sub-sector occupies up to 70% of the cultivated arable land. Nearly all the mechanically powered agricultural machinery in Tanzania is owned by the Large and medium scale farmers.
Useful figure from Africa Green Revolution Forum (2016) show the rapidly changing farm size situation in four SSA countries
Medium Scale Farms are becoming increasingly important and small scale farms are declining in terms of the area they cultivate /own
In Tanzania Medium and large scale farmers control 46% of cultivated land while Small scale farmers control about 54%. The Medium scale farmers are critical for the mechanization transformation.
In 2005 the nation-wide Tanzania Agricultural Mechanization Strategy [TAMS] conducted a survey. The results show a decline in the numbers of 4WT from a peak of over 18,500 operational units in 1985 to about 7,200 units by 2005 (structural adjustment). Since then numbers of operational 4WT have increased to 13,146 by 2015. as a result of the ASDP.
But the survey also showed that the 4WT fleet was quite old with over 73% over 15 years, well beyond their useful design life. Less than 10% of the tractors surveyed, were less than ten years old.
A significant proportion of the 4WT owned by farmers and private operators were obtained from the public sector as second-hand boarded off units and bought for cash. Only 3% of the respondents obtained credit.
The Tanzania Agricultural Mechanization Strategy survey [TAMS] of 2005 and MAFC survey of 2015 show that ownership of about 65% of the 4WT is concentrated in six regions [Morogoro; Arusha; Kilimanjaro; Manyara, Dodoma and Shinyanga] and the rest spread over the remaining 19 regions .
A point to note is that the concentration of ownership of the 4WT is not in the main surplus grain producing regions of Tanzania in the south of the country
Surveys show that there is considerable inter-regional mobility of 4WTs - evidence of the development of a hire service business model - that focuses on specialized land preparation operations. Hire service providers have been seen to follow the rainfall isohytes - as the land preparation season moving from the south of the country in October/November to the north around March/April - a distance of up to 1200 kms.
The movement of 4WT appears to be concentrated in the regions which are well connected with good roads
Combine harvesters and other post-harvest processing equipment [e.g. threshers and shellers] are restricted to the large scale commercial farms,
Draft animal technology [DAT] has been promoted in the country for over a century, but its adoption has largely remained confined to six drier regions in the North-West of the country. These six regions had 83.3% of the 1.4 million draft animals in use in Tanzania in 2005 and the situation has remained at the same level since then.
In the long term DAP is challenged by the increasing demand for livestock products, lack of pasture and herders; and the availability of Tractor Hire Services. Even ferrying water by donkeys is now being challenged by the establishment donkey abbatoirs for exporting donkey meat to Asia.
Farmer-Tractor Owner Offering Custom Hiring Services: Farmers [mainly medium and large scale] who own tractors provide custom hire services to other farmers in their locality after working on their own farms and sometimes migrate to other districts and regions.
This is the most common mode of provision of agricultural machinery hire services in Tanzania with ploughing, transportation and shelling being the main services offered. More recently, there has been an increase in the provision of hiring services in paddy harvesting by using combine harvesters mostly in areas under irrigation. The annual hours of tractor/machinery use by medium scale farms is low and may not justify the ownership of tractors.
By offering their services to other farmers, custom hire operators can spread the cost of the machinery and equipment over many hectares.
Farmer groups/ cooperatives: There are some isolated cases of groups of farmers or a cooperative/associations jointly owning agricultural machinery and provide hiring services to members and in some cases non-members after attending their farms. Group management of shared property is sometimes difficult which discourages cooperative ownership. The management of a shared property owned by a group is quite difficult especially when the size of the group increases and group members have significantly different farm sizes – this discourages cooperative ownerships.
Contract Farming Machinery Operators: Practised by a few companies only. Private companies either commercial farms or agro processors enter into contracts with smallholder farmers committing the grower to produce a certain commodity at a certain time for an agreed price. The contractor markets the commodity, provides extension services, agricultural inputs and mechanization services.
Agricultural machinery dealers: There are a few agricultural machinery dealers who have started providing machinery hire services to targeted customers.
Eight districts were selected as a case study for a more detailed analysis. A total of 185 tractor owners were interviewed Movemero, Kilombero, Morogoro Rural and Morogoro Municipal in Morogoro region; Kongwa in Dodoma region, Kiteto in Manyara region, Mbarali in Mbeya region Bagamoyo in Coast region.
Two wheel tractors are a recent introduction in the country increasing from less than 300 units in use in 2005 to over 9000 units by 2015. As of 2015 about 51% of them were located in six regions [Mbeya 27%; Morogoro 7%; Iringa 6%; Ruvuma 6%; Shinyanga, 6%; Lindi 5%] and the remaining 49% spread over the rest of the 20 regions
Three [Mbeya; Iringa and Ruvuma] of the six regions where most of the 2WT are found are also among the main regions of Southern Tanzania which produce grain surpluses. They are involved in rice and maize production and with considerable transportation activities.
While there was a spike in the use of 2WTs in Tanzania from 2005-15 (under ASDP 1) where Government subsidies played a significant role there may be some evidence that interest in 2WT is waning. This requires further study. But it still remains important in paddy systems but its role in transportation will be challenged by the motorized tricycle with a trailer - the so called TOYO.
Under Farm Mechanization and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification project (FACASI) a survey was conducted of three districts in the Northern Zone of Tanzania - Arumeru, Mbulu and Babati – where the farming systems are largely maize/ legume based with farm households ranging between 0.2 to 0.8 hectares.
The jury is still out on the use of power tillers. There is no question that they have been very successful in irrigated areas – especially for paddy cultivation and the profitability of their use is largely due to also being used also for transportation. But it may not be true that they are ‘inexpensive power sources’ as evidenced by several engineering studies on their cost per horsepower [Holtkamp, 1991].
Hand Tool Technology, DAP and Tractors: Too much attention has been paid to the whole question of tractors – especially the evolution from Hand tools to DAP to Tractors. Need to consider a scenario where the animal traction stage will be leapfrogged as is occurring in southern parts of Tanzania which are tsetse infested
Modality of introduction of 4WT and 2WT and Other Equipment: Mechanization in Tanzania likely to accelerate through different modalities. For land preparation: It may be a combination of medium scale farmers who then supplement their income by renting out their equipment within the region and/or across in other regions. For harvesting a regional market is likely to evolve and will be dominated by service providers who are not farmers themselves. The advent of small Chinese/Indian shellers & harvesters [for paddy] is likely to change the pace of mechanization and with considerable impact in reduction of Post-Harvest Losses [PHL]. For 2WT owners, viability of mechanization is dependent on the machine being used multi-functionally and throughout the year and within the same locality in tillage, crop husbandry activities, shelling and in transport operations in a farming system that comprises some cash crops.
Smallholder Agricultural Mechanization: The Role of Service Hiring Market in Developing Countries:A Case Study of Tanzania
Smallholder Agricultural Mechanization: The Role of
Service Hiring Market in Developing Countries:
A Case Study of Tanzania
David G. Kahan & Geoffrey C.Mrema
South-South Knowledge Sharing on Agricultural Mechanization
IFPRI, CIMMYT, and the Ethiopian agricultural mechanization forum
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia October 31– November 1, 2017
Structure of presentation
• Status of agricultural mechanization in Tanzania
• Drivers of mechanization
• Demand and supply trends and conditions
• Spatial variations
• Tractor hire service business models – results of studies
• Concluding comments
Status of Agricultural Mechanization in Tanzania
• Vast land area – 886,000 sq. km; arable land 45 mill. ha (10 mill under
cultivation; largely rural and rapid urbanization.
• Tractors used on only 14% of cultivated land; draught animal power
on 24% ; 62% relying on human muscle power through hand-tool
• In some regions land preparation by tractors has reached 48% of
cultivated land [e.g. in Arusha; Manyara; Mbeya; Kilimanjaro], well
above the national average.
• Although there has been a significant increase in imports of new
tractors the national situation is largely the same as in 2005.
Agricultural Mechanization in Tanzania 1990 to 2015
• The economic structural adjustment program [ESAP] implemented from
1990 to 2005 opened up the economy to private sector investment.
• Public sector supported THS were privatised with the tractors sold to
private operators. Due to financial austerity no new resources were
allocated for procurement of new machinery. The emphasis was placed on
small farm development through appropriate technologies (incl. DAP)
funded by donor agencies.
• 2005 – to date Tanzania has been implementing the Agricultural Sector
Development Program [ASDP1- 2005-15]. Under the Tanzania Agricultural
Mechanization Strategy [TAMS] which provided a framework to guide
interventions with an increased emphasis on private sector provision of
Import and domestic policies
• Main mechanization policies have included:
• Trade and import policies (tariffs, direct restriction),
• Promotion policies (subsidies)
• Concessional loans
• Policies affecting financial support for machinery purchases and inputs
Impact of trade liberalization policy
• Removed restrictions on the types of machines which private businesses
can import. Import tariffs waived by government to increase affordability
to farmers - agricultural machinery and implements are exempt from
import duty as well as VAT.
• Encouraged private sector actors to participate in the supply chain – wider
range of types and brands of tractors imported.
• In the past, a greater proportion of farm machinery imports came from
Europe where quality standards were usually guaranteed. However, the
lower cost imported tractors from China and India have captured a larger
share of the market
Government support initiatives: concessional
loans and grants
• Agricultural window in the Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB)
• Subsidization of procurement of 2WTs by farmers under the Agricultural
Sector Development Strategy [ASDS, 2001].
• $40 million concessionary credit from the Indian Government to import
and distribute 1800 units of 4WTs to farmers (2010 and 2011)
• “Kilimo Kwanza” (Agriculture First) for agricultural growth and
transformation: Agriculture Inputs Trust Fund (AGITF): provides credit to
farmers on concessionary terms.
• Private Agricultural Sector Support (PASS) + AGITF + establishment of
Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank eased bottlenecks in credit
Demand for tractors
• Peasant Subsistence Farmers [PSFs] cultivating less than 2ha
• Small-Scale Commercial Farmers [SSCFs] cultivating 2 to 10ha of land
• Medium-Scale Farmers [MSFs]: cultivating more than 10ha and up to 50 ha
• Large-Scale Farmers [LSFs]: cultivating more than 50ha and up to 2000 ha.
It is estimated that the small scale farming sub-sector occupies up to70% of
the cultivated arable land.
Nearly all the mechanically powered agricultural machinery in Tanzania is
owned by the large and medium scale farmers.
Ghana Kenya Tanzania Zambia
Area owned/controlled by small-scale (0 - 5 ha), medium-scale
(5- 100 ha) and large-scale (>100 ha) farm holdings in 2015 [AGRF2016].
Small scale Farms
Medium scale Farms
Large scale Farms
Areas of farm sizes in four countries in 2015
Agricultural machinery in use – 4WT
1950 1955 1960 1965 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015
Tractors (4WT) in use
Percentage of Tractor in use per Region (2015) Total
operational 4WT= 13,146
Total % for 6 regions= 63.8% (Source: MoAFS, 2016).
Tractor [4WT] in use in top six
regions in Tanzania in 2015
Draft animals in use in different regions (2005)
Hire service business models
• Farmer-Tractor Owner Offering Custom Hiring Services: Medium and large
scale farmers who own tractors provide custom hire services to other
farmers in their locality after working on their own farms and sometimes
migrate to other districts and regions.
• Farmer groups/ cooperatives: Isolated cases of groups of farmers or
cooperative/ associations jointly owning agricultural machinery and
providing hiring services to members/ non-members.
• Contract Farming Machinery Operators: Private companies - commercial
farms or agro processors - enter into contracts with smallholder farmers.
• Agricultural machinery dealers: A few agricultural machinery dealers
started providing machinery hire services to targeted customers.
• Most common business model - farmer tractor owner custom hire
service - medium and large scale farmers with 4WTs (farmer to farmer
• 92% of tractor owners in selected districts provide tractor hire services
but the larger the farm more time is spent on their own farms - less
time available to provide hire services.
• Individual owners and group owners provide 4WT hire services to
other farmers within their vicinity after their own farm work is
• Owners move to other regions of the country when the farming season
is over in their own region. About 58% of the tractors move to areas
less than 100 km while about 42% move to distances more than 100
• Combine harvesters move up to 600 km away.
Survey findings (Contd.)
• Data from several studies (albeit limited) show that the profitability
and sustainability of Tractor Hire Services is very much dependent
generating off-farm work especially during the off season
work in other parts of the crop production value chain
work in other districts where the land preparation season is in
different months of the year.
• It is unlikely that THS based on 4WT which concentrate on land
preparation activities and are located in one district throughout the
year are going to achieve utilization rates of more than 400 hrs.
• Post-harvest sector - grain milling has been almost completely
mechanized through small hammer and disc attrition mills. SMEs
offering grain milling hire services
• Positive impact on women who previously milled the grain
Efficient machinery utilization rates
• An important element of mechanization is the need to achieve:
efficient utilization rates of agricultural machinery and
timeliness of performing field operations.
• Delayed planting can lead to reduction in yields of up to 100kg/ha for each day
planting is delayed beyond the optimum date in rain fed cereals systems in the
semi-arid areas of SSA [Kosura, 1981].
• The number of days available for field operations in such semi-arid areas is
limited to about 30 days and hence timeliness is critical in most farming
systems in SSA.[Simalenga,1994]
• This limits the effective annual utilization rates, of say tractors [4WT], to 300 to
400 hours as opposed to the recommended 800 to 1200 hours.
• This will remain a major challenge to the viability and profitability of
mechanization investments in Tanzania.
Survey findings (2WT and small mech)
• 85% of the hire service providers offer a diverse package of services which include ploughing,
shelling and transportation.
• The demand for post-production operations that include maize shelling and legume threshing is
increasing leading to some service providers (SPs) investing in shellers and threshers.
• In some irrigated areas water pumps used for water lifting and irrigation.
• Typical clientele - small farmers on land holdings of between 0.1-2 hectares.
• Higher profits from shelling, followed by transportation and ploughing operation.
• Higher levels of profitability in maize based systems that include market oriented farm
• Costs of 2WT machinery and equipment could be greatly reduced by extending its use over a
large number of hours annually.
• Viability of the 2WTs is enhanced when farmers purchase the 2WT and implements as a
combined package for multi-purpose use.
• Most common and practical approach for increasing utilization rates was through the use of
tractors for transport and other non-agricultural tasks. But could only occur on a limited basis in
the upland areas given weak feeder road accessibility.
• Effective Demand: Factors leading to small holder demand for machinery hire services are very much
linked to the availability of markets for the output of the farming enterprise e.g. areas and regions near
major population centers with good last mile infrastructure.
• Dynamic & Static situation: A lot of changes appear to have occurred since 1985; very dynamic process
in ownership of farms but there is a paucity of data. There is also the change from socialist to capitalist
economy but without corresponding changes in some institutions e.g. land tenure policy.
• Hand Tool Technology (HTT), DAP and Tractors: Too much attention has been paid to the whole question
of tractors – especially the evolution from HTT to DAP to Tractors.
• Modality of introduction of 4WT and 2WT and other equipment: Mechanization in Tanzania is likely to
occur through different modalities.
• Mobility: THS providers who are offering services across regions likely to increase. This is likely to focus
on 4WT which can be driven to different locations. New technologies in ICT – will improve management
of tractor fleets when away from the base farm and facilitate owner keeping track of the tractors across
• Sequencing: Introduction of machinery for land preparation and
harvesting will likely occur simultaneously especially in areas where there
are many medium scale farmers.
• Spatial patterns: Regions where there is effective demand of the outputs
of farming – regions near international grain markets or near trunk roads
will be the ones where mechanization will take place first.
• Capacity building: Training is needed amongst THS - technical skills, and
development of business and managerial skills.
• Economic/ financial analysis: Little effort made to determine the
profitability and sustainability of the private sector run THS even though
there seems to be a consensus that this is the solution to the
mechanization problem in Tanzania and SSA in general.
• ERGONOMICS is as critical as ECONOMICS in SSA when considering
mechanization of primary tillage by hand-hoe (reducing drudgery and