Contract farming

 

 

Agriculture in Sub-Sahara African countries, almost all land preparation and cultivation is carried out manually. As the Agricultural Sector Review of Sierra Leone (2006), points out, ďMechanical cultivation involving tractors has had a very bad record in Sierra Leone mainly because of imports of inappropriate quality products (brands), lack of standardization, lack of spare parts, untimely deployment of machinery and supply of fuel, poor maintenance schedules, unattractive cost/benefit and poor management.

 

To solve this, Rural Agricultural Service Centres (RASC) need to be set up to service the small rural farmers. The centres will be equipped with tractors and auxiliary equipment, plus trucks for the transport of the equipment and harvest. The local farmers can till their land mechanically through the assistance of the RASC on an hourly bases or number of hectares ploughed, harvested, tilled, harrowed or otherwise. The repair and maintenance (R&M) shops of the RASC will be equipped each with a lathe, milling and drilling machine, and small equipment like a welding machine, grinders, forges, benches, etc. This will enable the centres to maintain their machines and even produce most of the spare parts themselves.

 

In addition a credit facility will be created to enable farmers to enjoy the services rendered by the RASC. Repayment can be done through the harvest of their crops. Eventually farmers will earn enough money to pay directly and to purchase small agricultural equipment. Besides offering services as contract farming, the RASC will play host to the following companies c.q. organizations:

  • Manufacturer of small tools.
  • Supplier of seed, fertilisers and pesticides
  • Office of the farmer cooperative.
  • Provider of credit facilities
  • Agriculture training centre.
  • Storage of crops

 

These RASCís can play a crucial role in the development of agriculture in Sub-Sahara Africa. Besides the mentioned advantages these centres will act as agricultural trade centres as well, attracting national and international buyers.

The provider of mechanized farming services through their direct involvement in agriculture in their region will be a valuable source of information. In addition these providers will specialize themselves in order to provide the right services to their customers, the local farmers.

 

The same development made the Netherlands one of the leading nations in agriculture. Also in this country farmers rely very much on these service providers to till their land. Main reasons are that they are cheaper, have experienced operators and the newest machines without the hassle of repair and maintenance.

Several Dutch companies have already expressed their willingness to enter into partnerships with African entrepreneurs.