You are here

Low-cost, Locally-produced, Small-scale Mechanization

There is great need in Africa for low-cost, locally-produced small-scale mechanization for smallholder farmers to increase their crop production. Researchers with the Soybean Innovation Lab (SIL) recognize this need and are working on both a locally-produced multi-crop thresher for smallholder soybean farmers and a small tractor that can be built in-country and used by service providers to help smallholder farmers plant, spray, cultivate, disc and thresh.

Many smallholder farmers in the tropics do not have access to durable and affordable equipment such as crop threshers and small tractors. Creating a local, skilled workforce for the fabrication of low-cost, locally-produced small-scale mechanization can solve many of the problems of availability and affordability that prevent smallholder farmers from scaling up production. Locally-made also means locally-repaired. Local fabricators can listen to customer concerns and customize equipment to the needs of the individual or groups of end-users.

Along with developing the soybean thresher, SIL created a customized training to teach local blacksmiths how to fabricate low-cost, small-scale crop threshers. The blacksmiths learn not only how to fabricate the threshers, but also receive business training and construct a working threshing machine. Click here to learn more about the training.

SIL works with an American manufacturer, Cleber LLC to make a 20 hp tool carrier tractor available for local production ( African companies can pay a per-unit licensing fee for the rights to manufacture the tractor. Building it in-country drastically lowers the tractor costs and helps to build African manufacturing companies. SIL uses the licensing fees to educate end-users and help build service provision networks. SIL also researches appropriate implements and use of the tractor for conservation agriculture. The hydrostat-driven tractor is easy to use, especially for women, and easy to maintain and fix. The tractor has been tested in Ethiopia and there are currently models being used in Senegal and Rwanda.


Dr. Kerry Clark
Soybean Innovation Lab
209 Mumford Hall
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211