Introduction of New Technology to Developing Countries

Why so many attempts to introduce new technology to the agriculture of developing countries not been a success.

One of the major problems of the Third World has been the introduction of inappropriate technology.  Examples of this include large scale irrigation projects that need dams. These require imported skills and equipment to operate, impact hugely on the population and environment and do not always produce the desired increase in food production.

Agricultural development projects have often emphasised the increased use of tractors and other engine driven machines and implements.  Many of these machines can be found rotting in fields though out the developing world. These machines may be appropriate in the developed world where capital and skills are available, but labour is expensive. In developing countries, where the opposite holds true, they are usually inappropriate. The introduction of imported technology in to third world farming systems us unlikely to increase food output when the skills to repair and maintain the machines is not available; nor are spare parts and a quality fuel supply available to keep them running.

 What are the principles of ‘appropriate technology’.

 Tehcnology is a combination of:







Equipment required to produce the goods and services Knowledge and skills to operate the tools The process by which techniques are bought together Goods and Services

 Appropriate technology is now the recognised term for a wide rang of technologies characterised by one ore more of the following features:

  • Low investment cost per work-place
  • Low capital investment per unit of output
  • Organised simplicity
  • Sparing use of natural resources
  • Low cost of final product
  • High potential for employment

What are the advantages of mechanical seeders over hand sowing?

  • Correct sowing depths lead to better germination and uniform crop stands
  • Precision sowing results in optimum plant population and less seed wasted
  • Good quality seeders improve the speed and accuracy timing of sowing, enabling farmers to cultivate larger areas
  • Well defined rows make weeding and harvesting easier

 List of the  important points in the maintenance of farm equipment

Regular maintenance of equipment is essential.

Follow manufacturer’s recommendations:

  • Make the recommended routine checks, adjustments and replacements (such as filters)
  • Use the recommended oils and lubricants
  • Replace worn parts in good time
  • Employ competent mechanics
  • Schedule maintenance for quiet times
  • Ensure a good stock of spare parts for timely useage

 What costs have to be considered when buying machinery and equipment?

  • Initial capital outlay
  • Import duties
  • Interest on any loans
  • Spare parts
  • Clean fuel supply
  • Servicing with a decent mechanic

 Why has animal power not been adopted in Africa as in Asia

Animal power had never really taken off in Sub Sahara Africa unlike in Asia and South America.  Reasons for this include:

  • Mixed farming is not traditional so farmers do not own cattle
  • Trypanosomiasis is endemic in many regions
  • Government agencies often lack interest and commitment to encourage the use of animal power

 What is the difference between a mouldboard and a disc plough?


Mouldboard Plough Disc Plough
Plough inverts the soil Plough partially inverts and chops the soil
Single furrow if animal drawn Multi disc
Can be animal drawn Tractor drawn



List the main types of grain mill

  • Plate mill – derived from the stone mill or quern
  • Roller mill – crushes the grain which is more suitable for animal feed
  • Hammer mill – grain is beaten and sieved for fineness

  When choosing a water pump, what two important pieces of information about the pump are required?

  • The pumping head
  • The flow rate

What are the potential drawbacks of a rotary hoe (rotavator)?

  • More expensive to purchase
  • More expensive to run (cost of fuel and spare parts)
  • More complicated to operate
  • More complicated to maintain

For more articles on tropical agriculture click here

Written by Fiona Johnson

Date March 2012