Visualising adoption processes through a stepwise framework: a case study of mechanisation on the Nepal Terai
CONTEXT: The desire for agricultural mechanisation is mainstreaming across the Global South, yet there are limited tools through which to monitor and estimate progress made in pursuit of this. Despite Nepal enacting an agricultural development agenda focused on mechanisation to address issues of productivity, labour scarcity, inclusive economic growth and sustainability, it remains one of the few places in South Asia that is yet to see substantial agricultural mechanisation rates. We use this scenario as a case study to propose and investigate adoption processes. OBJECTIVE: This research aims to provide a baseline to understand progress made towards Agri-mechanisation on the Nepal Terai. Despite decades of promotional efforts, there are only limited comprehensive analyses of the status of agricultural mechanisation in Nepal that cover diverse machinery and go beyond binary adoption estimates, nor a framework to understand different types of (non-)adopters. METHODS: The applied non-binary ‘Stepwise Process of Mechanisation’ framework provides a systematic process for investigation of the status of agricultural mechanisation on the Nepal Terai. This framework is applied to representative survey data from 14 districts across 1569 households from Nepal’s Plains (Terai) region. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Results suggest that decades of activity have not yet led to the substantial closure of exposure gaps, nor sufficient ownership of machines that enables accessible fee-for-hire service provision. Exposure gaps were substantial in all machines, meaning current demonstration programs may not be achieving their targeted outcomes. Across nearly all machinery, a primary reason for limited progression to sustained adoption was a lack of service providers, a manifestation of limited machinery ownership, meaning current broad subsidy programs aimed at procurement may not be achieving intended outcomes. However, substantial pools of potential adopters and concentration of supply-side constraints highlight that with targeted intervention, rapid rural mechanisation is possible in the near future on the Nepal Terai. SIGNIFICANCE: This research provides a foundation on which to understand the progress made towards small holder agricultural mechanisation. For the first time in South Asia, a systematic analysis through a novel stepwise framework has clarified and updated the status of agricultural mechanisation on the Nepal Terai. This work also lays the foundation for future work to explore the drivers, implications and inclusiveness of agri-mechanisation, utilising the identified typologies, both in Nepal and more broadly where increased nuance in understanding the status of agricultural mechanisation is warranted.