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Subject: Agricultural science
Topic: Farm Mechanization
Learning Objectives: By the end of the lesson, the learners should be able to:
- Define the term farm mechanization,
- Mention and explain the advantages of farm mechanization,
- State the disadvantages of farm mechanization,
- Identify the limitations to farm mechanization in West Africa,
- Suggest the ways the prospects of farm mechanization can be improved in West Africa.
Farm mechanization can be defined as the use of machines in carrying out agricultural operations. It dated back to the historical period of industrial revolution. It was necessitated by the realization that the use of work animals and total dependence on human labour for production of food and fibre was no longer tenable. Without farm mechanization, it will be difficult to produce enough food for the teaming populations.
Advantages Of Farm Mechanization
- Farm mechanization reduces drudgery in farm activities. This is because machines can never show sign of tiredness. It only needs to be fuelled and put in sound working condition.
- Farm mechanization saves labour. With the aid of machine, less number of labour is required.
- It enhances timely operations. A single farm machine can in one day carry out operations which may take weeks for several men to be carried out.
- Farm machine may carry out more than one farm operations at a time. For example, seed drill can plant grains and apply fertilizers at the same time. Combine harvesters, harvest, thresh, destine, and bag paddy in a single operation. This process saves time and labour.
- It encourages specialization. There is the tendency for machine operators to specialize in handling specific duties. This make them to be efficient.
- Farm mechanization increases productivity of agricultural factors of production. With the aid of machines in farm operations, output is greatly enhanced.
Disadvantages Of Farm Mechanization
- Displacement of workers. Machine requires a short time to do a lot of work which would have been done by many workers. The involvement of machines in farm operations brings about unemployment.
- Destruction of Soil Structure. Most of the farm machines in use in Nigeria are being imported and were manufactured without taking our soil conditions into consideration. These machines end up destroying our soil, because Nigerians are yet to produce tractors that are suitable for their soil.
- Environmental Pollution. The use of large quantities of insecticides, herbicides, nematicides etc has resulted to pollution of our environment, which usually give rise to the death of beneficial organisms, development of resistance in some pests, resurgence of treated insect pests population and might cause direct hazard to human.
Problems Facing Mechanization In West Africa.
- Inadequate Capital. Farm mechanization involves heavy capital outlay. It requires money for the purchase of machine and spare parts, hiring of tractors and purchase of large area of land. The West African farmers are poor and cannot cope with these financial demands which mechanization calls for.
- Land Fragmentation: Mechanization involves large scale operation. But should be noted that the agricultural lands in Nigeria are fragmented to a large extent. This makes it difficult for farmers to obtain enough land and for machines to move from one small farm holding to another.
- Redundancy Of Machine: Most machines available for agricultural operations appear to be redundant. This is due to the seasonality of our agricultural activities. Also, the nonchalant attitude and dubious activities of some state ministries of agriculture that operate tractor-hiring service have not ensured optimum use of the tractors.
- Lack Of Technical Know-how: Many of the West African farmers do not have the technical skill needed for the effective use of reactors. They do not have the knowledge to operate and repair the farm tractors and machinery.
- Abundance Of Cheap And Unskilled Labour: In West Africa, Nigeria for example, there is abundance of cheap and unskilled labour in the agricultural sector. This coupled with the small nature of agricultural enterprises in the country, makes the introduction and implementation of farm mechanization unnecessary and uneconomical.
- Mechanization Of Agricultural Operations: This is one method that has been discovered to be superior to the traditional methods but it not always as efficient as the later. For instance, the use of groundnut shelling machine is superior to the hand method but less efficient.
- Shortage Of Pare Parts: There is a glaring shortage of original spare parts for the maintenance of available farm machinery. Where they are available, they are highly extensive.
Prospect Of Farm Mechanization In West Africa
- Formation if Farmers Co-operative Societies: Co-operative societies among farmers will enable them join hands to gather resources to raise enough capital for the purchase farm machinery or obtaining enough land for farming. When farmers form such societies, they stand a good chance of securing loans from financial institutions. These loans also enable them to buy agricultural machines and implements.
- Education Of Farmers: Education enable farmers to aim at large scale agricultural ventures, and appreciate the part agricultural mechanization could play in commercial farming. It will also expose farmers to skills needed for the operation and repair of farm machine and machinery.
- Production Of Less Costly Machine: There is the urgent need to develop and fabricate less expensive machine which can perform several operations under the local ecological conditions.
- Stoppage Of Land Fragmentation: Farmers should be encourage to pool their land resources together so as to increase the land area of their farm holdings and then create a necessary condition for mechanization.
- Government Tractor Hire Service: It is very important that the should stocks a variety of farm machines and then hires them out to farmers at subsidized rates and at different seasons of the year. It has been observed that where thus approach is adopted, many farmers indicate their willingness to benefit from the service.
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Take a quick test for this lesson
- Define the term farm mechanization.
- Mention and explain six advantages of farm mechanization.
- State the disadvantages of farm mechanization.
- What are the limitations to farm mechanization in West Africa?
- Suggest five ways the prospects of farm mechanization can be improved in West Africa.
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