Policymakers, researchers and industry experts have underscored the need to address disparate and unequal levels of agricultural mechanization development among countries in Asia and Africa as part of regional efforts to improve agricultural productivity, food security and poverty reduction among smallholder farmers.
Organized by the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization (CSAM) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Nanjing Research Institute of Agricultural Mechanization (NRIAM) and the World Food Programme (WFP), the week-long ‘Training Workshop on Sustainable Mechanization for Smallholder Farmers in Asia and Africa’ brought together delegates from 16 countries.
Commenting on the training, Ms Li Yutong, Head of CSAM, highlighted the timeliness of the event, which follows the signing of two Memoranda of Agreement between ESCAP (through CSAM) and Chinese agencies alongside the Second Belt and Road Forum last month to support effective agricultural machinery for greater food security and rural development, saying that “showcasing the good practices and exchanging experiences in developing effective agricultural machinery can be very useful for countries that are designing their own path towards development through the improvement of the conditions and strengthening the resilience of smallholder farmers.”
Smallholder farmers are fundamental to the agricultural sector in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa; they produce the vast majority of food in these regions, but are still facing poverty in large numbers. They are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and market trends, also because of their limited capacity to invest in adequate equipment. Providing affordable and appropriate machinery for these farmers can improve working and livelihood conditions, as well as provide solutions to the vast challenges that hamper agricultural production.
Held from 13 to 17 May 2019, the workshop provided an opportunity for participants to share their countries’ experiences and collaborate with Chinese experts in the spirit of South-South cooperation. Participants visited three different cities - Nanjing, Zhang Jiagang and Wuxi – to gain on-ground training and expertise from local manufacturers and enterprises.