Pros and Cons of Agricultural Mechanization in the Third World


  • Fred Magdoff



Ecology, Imperialism


There is much that needs modernizing in traditional agricultural practices of the Third World. In some countries relatively simple changes, such as the substitution of metal implements for wooden hoes and plows, or the use of rubber tires on wheelbarrows and carts, may make a great difference. There are many areas where more efficient drainage of wet soils and/or irrigation of dry soils, better weed control, more use of improved varieties and fertilizers, different crop rotations, and erosion-control practices would significantly improve crop production and farmer welfare. Included in the vast array of possible modernizing techniques is the increased use of mechanical means (as contrasted with human and animal power) to work the soil, plant seeds, harvest crops, irrigate fields, etc. While the mechanization of agricultural production has tremendous possibilities, it also contains pitfalls. This article will explore what mechanization does and how it influences the soil, crop, farmer, and society.

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