AGRICULTURAL MECHANIZATION: A SUSTAINABILITY TOOL FOR NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY Ola Rauf and Lateef, I A Mechanical Engineering Department, Osun State College Of Technology P. M. B 1011,, Esa- Oke, Nigeria baale_i@yahoo. com ABSTRACT Poverty is a state of insufficient of everything. The rate of poverty in developing country is very alarming and therefore required proper investigation. A nation in which 80% of her population consists of peasant famer that cannot provide enough food for his or her family, will not capable of feeding her population and hence lack food security.
This paper discus the problem facing developing country food security with regards to agricultural production in relationship with peasant farmers that produces 90% of food. Application of Agricultural mechanization is examined as a means of sustaining developing nations as regards to food security problems. Key words-Poverty, Peasant farmer, food security and Infrastructural amenities. INTRODUCTION Poverty is very severe in some of the developing country, most especially in rural areas where social services and infrastructure are limited or non-existence.
Majority of these rural dwellers are classified as poor because they live in thatched home or rented one room apartment. They walk about bare footed, use wood to cook their food and have neither good source of water nor electricity. These people can hardly afford to send their children to school, hence referred to as peasant farmers.
Farmers practicing subsistence farming, producing what can hardly feed their immediate family all the year round and cannot meet other requirements of life are often referred to as peasant farmers. These peasant farmers are common in Africa country, most especially, Nigeria.
They are the categories of people that cultivate less than 1 hectare of land in all and practice shifting cultivation. Their farm plots which are scattered about and in most cases their inheritance or got on lease, depend on rainfall rather than irrigation system. According to World Bank data of 1996, 44% of male farmers and 72% of female’s farmers cultivate less than 1 hectare of land per household in Nigeria. They have limited commercial orientation and the crop yields are usually below agronomic potentials due to climatic, cultural, social and economic factors (IFAD, 2007).
As a matter of fact the country can not produce enough food to feed her populace. Importance of Peasant Farming To National Food Security Peasant farmer are making substantial contribution towards the attainment of food self-sufficiency at different times. Odigboh (2004) confirmed that peasant farmers are producing over 90% of the country’s food yet they suffered the most severe deprivation socially and economically. Despite the peasant strife to make both ends meet, their efforts and supports from policy makers over the years have not yielded the desired outcome in term of wealth creation.
Olomola (2005), when contributing to why peasant farmers remain poor, observed that agriculture has witnessed considerable changes over the years especially on account of changing technology, level of investment, marketing outlet s and policy direction. Still, there is no food security. FOOD SECURITY Food security is severally defined in term of access by all people at all times to sufficient food for active healthy lives (World Bank, 2002). As such food security depends not only on how much food is available but also on the access that individuals have to food whether by purchasing it or by producing it.
This access however, depends on some economics variables such as food prices, household’s income, agricultural productivity, technology availability towards mechanization and quality of natural resources. Limitations of Peasant Farmers. The peasant farmers utilize only simple tools such as hoes and cutlasses. Farmers using only hand tools technology can only cultivate an average of one hectare of land to produce what can barely feed their family. This limitation is due to the fact that human beings can only work at a rate of only 0. 75 Kw on the average and their work rate is about 50% in temperate climates and less than 10% in humid tropical conditions (FAO, 1988). The tillage and drudgery, as well as the power constrain on timely tillage operations which limit production and earning capacity are some of the inherent problem of the peasant farmer using hand tools technology. Mrema and Mrema, (1993) posted that out of the three levels of technology-hand tools, draught – animal and engine power technology, hand tools technology predominates 86 % of tillage and land preparation operation in Nigeria are performed using simple hand tools.
Presently, only 10% of out of food relies on machine power technology (Ogunlowo,2003). This translates to the fact that we cannot achieve food security until there is adequate mechanization of our food production. Adequate and sufficient mechanization can only come through availability of suitable and affordable farm machines and implements. This feat can only be achieved through local manufacture of farm machinery. AGRICULTURAL MECHANIZATION This is a field of engineering that utilizes physical and biological sciences with mathematics to aid production, handling and processing of agricultural products.
Agricultural mechanization involves the use of machine power from different sources and output to power agricultural machine and implements to work large hectare rage of land at a shortest possible time and to a high degree of accuracy. Agricultural mechanization practice will enable farmers to escape from drudgery and low output associated with using only hoes and cutlass. Lack of infrastructure has in no small measure contributed to rural poverty because it reduces profitability of production for the markets.
The rural road network which is least developed has separated the villages and even rendered these village virtually inaccessible during the raining seasons. Whenever there is post- harvest marketable surplus, it is not always easy to reach the markets. Sources of input, equipment and new technology are blocked due to lack or limited accessibility. 30% of the food produced in Nigeria is lost due to poor preservation. ( Ogunlowo, 2003). Preservation requires adjusting the moisture content of food and storing under staple condition.
Since moisture level adjustment and storage especially large capacity handling cannot be effective through mechanization. It requires adequate processing equipment to mechanize processing of our food into items capable of creating demand and assure the farmer of a fair return for his efforts. Faborode (2005) reported that poverty rate has increased from 27% in 1980 to 70% in 1999. Most of the investments that have been committed to rural development failed to yield the desired effect because of inappropriate design and implementation of project, ineffective support services and widespread corruption.
Ige (1994), when controlling to the issue of farming as a business said that modern farming could be a viable and lucrative venture if the youths are engaged in it, but he contented that when young farmers are trained and acquired the necessary skill, they usually leave the farm for salaried job that are not in anyway related to agriculture, using their knowledge as a stepping stone to other professions. There are virtually no storage facility located in rural areas and readily available to farmers at affordable cost to enable the peasant farmers store their products.
Storage should therefore be mechanized so that a good percentage of farm products are available for use. The use of pesticides and weed control process should be mechanized to enhance timelines in operation and a kind of insurance to farm products. WAY FORWARD Poverty reduction among peasant farmers can be minimized if the right agricultural mechanization and investment is pursued with some level of commitment, the household access to land is improved upon, accumulation of non-land assets is encouraged and number of earning members of the household is increased.
Small-medium power machinery along with other mechanization equipment appropriate for the different ecological zones in our rural environment must be developed. Acceptable alternative simple technology for farm power and tillage operations should be made affordable to farmers through soft loan credit on acceptable terms. Implements should be fabricated in such a way that local repair and provision of spare parts within the rural community is possible.
These are essential to the sustenance of efforts on introduction of mechanization technology to farm operation and sustainable food security. Government should also assist the farmer through registered cooperative unions with a view to providing agricultural loans to forestall diversion of cash to uneconomic ventures. Local stations must be established where money need for land preparation, improved seeds, herbicides are provided on loan, payable only when the farmer delivers the harvested crop to such station.
Government should give priority to rural road development through maintenance of exiting roads and open new ones. The existing farm transportation system should be improved upon and expanded within the economic and technical limitations of the end users. CONCLUSION With Agricultural Mechanization a large hectares of land can be cultivated, resulting in bigger output and increase in product for market. Mechanization will improve the quality of farm produce that will command higher price.
Harvesting will be easier, timely and cost effective while post harvest processes will be effectively done, thereby remaining post hammer losses resulting in higher quality produces that will attract good prices and hence more income to the farmer. Produce handling and storage facilities will also be made possible through mechanization, hence encouraging the producer to hold his produce in stock for better price later in the season. REFERENCES Adigun, Y. J. and Oni, K,C. 1993.
Evaluation of problems repair And Maintenance of Agricultural Machinery in Kwara State of Nigeria, proc, of the 17th Annual conf, of the Nig,Soc,Of Agriculture Engineers. Akande, A. 2003. Farming System, Research and Extension Faborode, M. O. 2005. Life and living, inaugural lecture series 183 O. A. U. Ife, Nigeria. Hazell, peter and Michael Johnson 2000. Ending Hunger in Africa, only the Small Farmer Can Do it IFPRi Policy Brief, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washing, D. C. IFAD, 2007. Rural Poverty in Nigeria File;/E/index%20Poverty. Htm Ige, M. T. 1994.
Energy for Agriculture, The Mechanization Options. Inaugural Lecture series 105 O. A. U Ife. Mrema, G. C. and Mrema, M. Y. 1991. Draught Technology and Agriculture Mechanization in in Africa: Its Potential and Constrains. Network for Agricultural Mechanization in Africa (NAMA) Newsletter 1(2 peasant farmer): 12-23. Odigboh, E. U 1991. Continuing Controversies On Tillage Mechanization In Nigeria. Journal of . Agricultural Science and Technology 1 (1): 41-49. Odigboh, Initials 2006: Agriculture mechanization: where Nigeria is now and where it ought to be in the next century.
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