Rural development and energy policy: lessons from agricultural mechanisation in South Asia

The purpose of this paper is to reopen policy debates on the role of agricultural mechanisation in rural development. The paper examines very different and diverse patterns of agricultural mechanisation in some South Asian countries over the last 30 years. In Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka the process was facilitated by the import of inexpensive Chinese diesel engines that powered small two-wheel tractors, pumpsets, threshers, trailers and other rural equipment. Bangladesh now has one of the most mechanised and labour intensive agricultural sectors in South Asia. The spread of small scale equipment was accompanied by the spread of very diverse market institutions for the buying and selling of tractor, pumpset, transport and other services. India followed a different path. The paper concludes with a discussion
of old and new themes in the debate.