Brazil’s Tropical Solutions for Africa: Tractors, Matracas and the Politics of ‘Appropriate Technology'
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This article focusses on mechanical farming technology sponsored by Brazil’s South-South cooperation in Africa. Tractors and matracas are taken as symbols of different agricultural development pathways promoted by Brazilian players. One stark contrast is between high-powered mechanised farming and no-till conservation agriculture. Another is between large-scale agriculture and small-scale family farming. Embrapa, widely known as the champion of the Green Revolution in Brazil, has also encouraged a conservation route and the use of no-till and small-scale equipment, such as matracas. The Brazilian Ministry of Agrarian Development, leading advocate of family farming and of political opposition to large-scale farming, has inadvertently sponsored tractors, feeding a new wave of mechanisation across Africa that overlooks the potential of smaller-scale alternatives. Brazilian actors and their African counterparts have instrumentally deployed technology, and tractors particularly, in the pursuit of their interests, whereas considerations about technological appropriateness to local conditions have hardly played a role.