REGIONAL AGRICULTURAL MECHANIZATION and FOOD SCIENCE RESEARCH
Traditional agriculture in Ethiopia has developed many centuries ago and is still practiced in its earlier forms. Utilization of the power of domestic animals for various agricultural purposes is one of the outstanding merits of this traditional agriculture. Besides, different time tested crop production and livestock rearing systems which have evolved through these years are also other attributes of these centuries old agricultural practices.
However, given this state of production and agricultural development, the countries farming community, amounting to about 85% of the total population, could not produce sufficient for itself, let alone for the countries overall population. Level of food insecurity is so high, un-bearable for the current science and technology era. Besides, issues of population growth and social and cultural development, which enhance consumption; globalization; which necessitates competitiveness in every nation’s agriculture, and many other factors, call for more competitive, transformed agriculture.
In response to these needs, use of more productive agricultural inputs increased resulting in an overall agricultural productivity improvement in recent years. Even attitudinal changes have occurred from farmer’s side; they are becoming more global thinkers, producing for world market standards. However to make these changes irreversible, such achievements should be supported by technical hardware. The research and extension system in the country should thus be more responsive for such changes, supporting it through selection, testing and giving appropriate advice suitable for particular farming situation and level of development.
Effective and efficient technologies should be available for farmers in more usable and more accessible forms. Technologies which improve tillage practices and enable completion of important farm activities timely and more effective, are very essential. Improved technologies for postharvest management and proper husbandry of crop and animal products are highly desired than ever. Efficient and powerful farm power sources which can be used for many on / off-farm activities are the order of the day.
Improved and selective agricultural mechanization technologies will play such an important role; reducing overall work burden of farmer and enabling him to do better work in more effective and productive way. Well tested and selected mechanization technologies increase farmers overall productivity by making him more effective and more efficient operational manager than a mere source of farm labor.
Adoptive research, which include improvement of available power and tillage systems, testing of new power technologies including tractors and combine harvesters and delivering a well articulated recommendation suitable for local situation is the most important objective of Agricultural mechanization Research in Amhara Region. Research conducted to select, modify, redesign, field test, and issue adapted technologies and un biased reports on suitability and performance of agricultural machineries are the immediate output of this research. Such research outputs will be of a great importance not only for farmers, but also for development planners, extension system, and policy makers as well. The inevitability of improved level of Agricultural Mechanization, which is the use of any mechanized means in the process of agricultural production, processing and marketing is now becoming clear.
Bahir Dar Agricultural Mechanization and Food Science Research Center, formerly called Bahir Dar Agricultural Mechanization Research Center, has been established for this purpose; conducting research for selecting, developing, adopting, and promoting suitable agricultural mechanization technologies for the regions farming community. Since its establishment in 1992 E.C as a research center, it has conducted several registered research activities to bring about an agricultural transformation in the system. Much has been obtained as success story. Although most of the technologies dealt with as a research activity are not yet fully and efficiently utilized, some as Modern beehives, treadle pumps, some drainage and moisture conservation technologies are widely in use all over the region.
- What is Agricultural Mechanization - is the use of any mechanized means in the process of agricultural production, processing and marketing. It is, in simple terms, the use of hand operated, animal drawn, and/or power driven equipment in the production, processing, and marketing of agricultural produce.
- Importance of Agricultural Mechanization – The main purpose of mechanization is to make man more efficient director of power and create favorable grounds for increasing production and productivity of a system. The importance of Improved and appropriate agricultural Mechanization technologies can be summarized as;
- Improving labor productivity
- Improving land productivity
- Increase cultivable area
- Bring about Operational timeliness
- Enable to do jobs which are difficult or impossible otherwise
- Maintain postharvest quality/ reduce losses
- Adding values for agricultural produces
- Create access for improved power sources or power harnessing possibilities
- Creating new job opportunities and Income generation / additional source of income, etc
- Research themes or case teams- Amhara Region Agricultural Mechanization and Food Science Research has been working mainly in the following major areas;
- Pre-harvest, farm power and small-scale Irrigation Technologies
- Tillage implements
- Land Shaping implements
- Crop establishment and inter-culture
- Farm power /Tractors, animal harnessing, renewable energy, fuel saving/
- Small-scale irrigation technologies / pumps, water lifters, devices for water conveyance, application, etc/
- Postharvest, and animal husbandry
- Harvesting of crop
- Threshing, transport and primary processing
- Storage and preservation technologies
- Animal husbandry / shades, hives, barns, balers, etc/
- Agricultural processing and food science
- Characterization and evaluation of traditional foods and food preparation techniques
- Home level food processing
- Preservation and shelf life enhancement
- Agricultural Product quality studies