• Short Summary

    In 1966, the Ivory Coast government formed Motoragri -- a state company providing mechanical and technical assistance to farmers.

  • Description

    In 1966, the Ivory Coast government formed Motoragri -- a state company providing mechanical and technical assistance to farmers.

    Equipment and men to work it can be leased to big plantation companies or any small group of peasants who form a co-operative for using the equipment.

    In the past four years, Motoragri has helped make the Ivory Coast one of the richest agricultural countries in Africa.

    The ideas for Motoragri came after a visit to israel in 1962 by Ivory Coast President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, who was greatly impressed with israel's agricultural mechanisation.

    Thirty Israeli agricultural experts helped set up the company, and its first general manager was an Israeli, Mr Arie Barkol. Motoragri now employs more than 800 people, all of them Ivorians except for 24 Israeli technical assistants. The company is now run by an Ivorian, Mr Zahabi.

    Although state owned and run, the company is operated along commercial lines and has been making a profit. Since it started in April, 1966, Motoragri has cleared 56,834 acres (23,000 hectares) of bush, subsoiled 37, 066 acres (15,000 hectares) and ploughed 45,714 acres (18,500 hectares). It has also built 1,864 miles(3,000 kilometres) of roads and excavated more than 239,200 square yards(200,000 square metres) of land to produce small reservoirs for crop irrigation purposes.

    In the near future the company hopes to add mechanical harvesting to its services, because farmers have been finding it Difficult to harvest the unprecedented abundance of yield which results from the mechanical assistance now available.

    The success of Motoragri has astounded critics who said that agricultural mechanisation would never work in Africa. They had argued that mechanisation would not work because Africans could not be trained to work and maintain farming equipment. African topsoils were said to be so thin that mechanical clearing would upset the balance and produce barren land. It was also said that the cost of mechanisation would be astronomical and out of proportion to any increased yields obtained.

    With Motoragri the farmer has no mechanical overheads but obtains the advantages of mechanisation. In the case of peasant farmers, the coast of hiring Motoragri has been repaid over many years from the profits obtained from the new abundance of produce.

    Motoragri is the only such organisation in the developing countries of Africa. Its success makes it a model to be followed.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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