The political economy of mechanising African agriculture: insights from Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe

Friday 14 September 2018 13:00 to 14:30
IDS Convening Space

This seminar will focus on recent technology changes in African agriculture and specifically the emphasis on mechanisation as a vehicle for modernisation and structural transformation. The renewed interest in mechanisation echoes the rise of agriculture in the policy agenda and the quest for an African Green Revolution. Several African governments have resurrected mechanisation programmes, largely abandoned since the times of Structural Adjustment, becoming once again involved in procurement and setting up mechanisation services, albeit with new features, including the involvement of the private sector.

The revival of agricultural mechanisation has been prompted by new aid/trade opportunities with countries like India, China and Brazil, which have supplied subsidised machinery as part of South-South cooperation. Meanwhile, structural changes in some countries, including the consolidation of land holdings and the rise of middle farmers, have stimulated demand for mechanisation and created new business opportunities. Markets for second-hand machinery, machinery rental and service provision are on the rise. In this seminar we will share findings from across agrarian settings and political economies in Africa that offer fresh evidence on patterns of mechanisation, policy instruments, business models and changing social relations in the countryside.

Chair: John Thompson, IDS


  • Kojo Amanor is an Associate Professor and Deputy Director at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana. His main research interests are in the land question, smallholder agriculture, agribusiness food chains, forestry policy, environment, and participatory methodologies for rural development. His recent research is on the political economy of cereal crops in Ghana, farmer management of soils and agribusiness chains. He has published widely in these fields.
  • Toendepi Shonhe is a Research Fellow at Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, U His research interest is in agrarian change, agricultural commercialisation and mechanisation. He recently published a book on the “Reconfigured Agrarian Relations in Zimbabwe”. His current research work focusses on the agrarian transition in Zimbabwe as well as food security and capital accumulation in Africa.
  • Lídia Cabral is a Research Fellow at IDS. Her work focuses on the politics of aid, development cooperation and public policy in the agricultural domain, especially in Africa and Latin America. Her latest research concentrates on Brazil’s development cooperation with Africa, with emphasis on how Brazil’s domestic politics have shaped agricultural cooperation practices abroad.