The manual work carried out by farmers and their families is often both arduous and time consuming and in many countries this is a major constraint to increasing agricultural production. Such day to day drudgery is a major contributory factor in the migration of people, particularly the young, from the rural countryside to seek the prospect of a better life in the towns and cities.
Farm production can be substantially increased through the use of mechanical technologies which are both labour saving and directly increase yields and production. The necessary inputs are carefully selected tools, machines, and equipment. Such technological interventions are commonly referred to as agricultural mechanization and a judicious choice is crucial for farmers to achieve optimum profitability from their businesses and to attain an acceptable quality of life for themselves and their families. The choice can also have a major impact on the environment; only the use of those which have a positive effect can be sustainable over the long term.
It is therefore important to identify appropriate mechanization strategies with particular emphasis on increased production, farmers’ livelihoods, and environmentally sustainable options. This document provides guidelines on the development and formulation of an agricultural mechanization strategy and forms part of FAO’s approach on sustainable production intensification.