The desirability of mechanizing agriculture in less developed countries is a controversial issue. One view is that agricultural development requires machine power to increase output and intensify land-use. Mechanization may enable critical constraints and bottlenecks to be overcome thus increasing yields, multiple cropping and sometimes employment of labour. These benefits result from improved cultivation methods such as deeper ploughing and also more timely cultivation. On the other hand, mechanization may be socially undesirable in that it merely substitutes capital for labour with no output increases and leads to widespread unemployment in labour-surplus economies. This book explores the economic theory of mechanization, puts forward a framework to analyze economic data on the impact of mechanization, presents results of studies carried out in the Philippines and Indonesia and draws important conclusions for mechanization policies in less developed countries. The role of governments and other agencies in stimulating and accelerating mechanization is questioned.
The book should be of interest to agricultural policy makers and aid agencies as well as to academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students of agricultural economics, development and engineering in both developed and developing countries.