Kansas State University


Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification

Tag: mechanization

Solar-Powered Multipurpose Traction Unit

The SIIL-funded Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC), and their Michigan State University (MSU) project, has developed a new traction unit specifically designed to address the needs of the smallholder farmer in sub-Saharan Africa. The ASMC researchers, led by co-PI Dr. Ajit Srivastava, came up with this solar-powered, scale-appropriate, sustainable, and multifunctional machine, to aid smallholder farmers with many of their daily tasks— these include threshing, planting, irrigation, milling and weed control. 70% of the farmers targeted by this technology still use manual labor to perform these tasks, with only 10% using any kind of mechanization. The final 20% use animal labor, a method of farm labor is not without its own costs and issues. By using this machine, farmers in the ASMC target-countries can increase and intensify their production, while reducing costs and human drudgery.

Check out the great video that the ASMC-MSU produced to showcase the machine. It features this exciting and innovative technology, explaining in more detail the solar-powered traction unit’s specifications and uses, along with a demonstration of its functions. We are excited to promote the new ways our funded projects are able to extend sustainable intensification around the world!

Mechanization is Advancing Sustainable Intensification in Burkina Faso

The overarching goal of the Appropriate Scale Mechanization Hub in Burkina Faso is to assist the country’s smallholder farmers in improving their quality of life by integrating appropriate technologies into crop and livestock systems that sustain profitability and boost ecosystem resilience by alleviating labor bottlenecks while reducing the drudgery of labor-intensive farm tasks.

Figure 1. Université Polytechnique de Bobo-Dioulasso students and ASMC interns Sayaogo Boureima, Victor Ye, Fatoumata Ganou and Dianda Saidou.

We are near the end of the second year of the SIIL Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC) project and are reviewing the initial objectives established in collaboration with the stakeholder group and advisory team to ensure that our activities are in line with project objectives. Stakeholders include the U.S. and Burkina Faso ASMC project teams along with local farmers, extension educators, students, agribusiness representatives, agricultural lenders, farmer organizations, technical service providers and others in the Hauts Bassins region.

The interaction with stakeholders was essential in defining the scope and structure of the work in Burkina Faso, and just as importantly, in illuminating a set of common goals and values shared by Burkinabé farmers. We asked:

  • What is the local vision of small-scale farming systems that integrate all aspects of sustainability?
  • Which aspects of the local farming systems are most important to retain if the overall objective is a sustainable balance of environmental, economic and social issues?
  • What diminishes (physical, biological, cultural, etc.) the sustainability of local farming systems, and what can be done to overcome it?
  • How can mechanization improve local farming systems that balance sustainability and social and gender equity?

The participatory and inclusive interaction with stakeholders provided an essential understanding of field conditions and helped prioritize the needs, challenges, and opportunities for mechanization.  The resulting action plan continues to guide the project. Continue reading “Mechanization is Advancing Sustainable Intensification in Burkina Faso”

Animal Traction is an Appropriate Technology for Cropping System Mechanization in Burkina Faso

Figure 1. Administrative region map of Burkina Faso. The Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium zone of influence is the highlighted Hauts-Bassins region

Ninety-two percent of the population of Burkina Faso is involved in agricultural pursuits (Beal et al., 2015).  Agricultural production is labor intensive for smallholder farmers. Small landholders typically work less than 3.5 hectares, while mid-size farms are about 7 hectares and large farms are typically 10 hectares or larger. The rural population relies on subsistence farming, and nearly the entire rural population lives in poverty. Forty-five percent of the farms have an income of less than $1 per day.  The Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC) has partnered with the Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso to improve management practices and technologies for maize cultivation in the Hauts-Bassins region of Burkina Faso. The main cash crops in this region are maize, cotton, soybeans, peanuts and sesame.  The mechanization practices developed for maize will be applicable and transferable to these other cash crops. These ASMC efforts will provide the smallholder farmers with improved agricultural techniques and technologies that will sustainably increase agricultural production, reduce labor and drudgery, increase socio-economic status, and improve the overall quality of life. Continue reading “Animal Traction is an Appropriate Technology for Cropping System Mechanization in Burkina Faso”

The Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium Kicks Off Field Hub Training with Workshop in Burkina Faso

Dr. Millogo, Director of Appropriate Scale Mechanization Innovation Hub Burkina Faso and workshop participants with their new and improved yokes. Pictured Left to Right: Fankani Tchitchi, Millogo Vinsoun, Bognini Solange, Bonkian Thérese, Bognini Mark, Sanou Mariatou, Sanou Mazouma

Members of the Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC) led the first hands-on training at their field training hub in Burkina Faso from September 5-16, 2016. It brought together smallholder farmers, local artisans and university students. The workshop was conducted by team members from Michigan State University in cooperation with Tillers International and was funded by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification.

In Burkina Faso, traditional yokes are still being used to team pairs of oxen. “These yokes are narrow, concentrating the pulling forces on a small area on the neck of the oxen, making long work days difficult and painful,” Elsa Kanner, Tillers International employee, said. Another problem facing farmers in this area is training. The animals are most receptive to training at a young age, but farmers are waiting until they are mature to begin the process. These factors combined make for uncooperative oxen, which require 2-3 workers to handle. The practice is, therefore, more labor intensive and expensive than it could be with improved training techniques and modern yokes. Continue reading “The Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium Kicks Off Field Hub Training with Workshop in Burkina Faso”