Smallholder Mechanisation Advisor

Company Overview

Palladium develops and delivers solutions that create positive impact for communities, businesses, societies and economies. We transform lives and create enduring value by working with governments, corporations and non-profit organisations. Palladium is built on the idea that progress will be supported by four key pillars:

  • International Development
  • Strategy Execution Consulting
  • Impact Investment
  • Training and Events

We create positive impact through more than 100 current projects with more than 2000 employees operating in over 90 countries.

Palladium is a child-safe organisation, and screens applicants for suitability to work with children. Wealso provide equal employment to all participants and employees without regard to race, color, religion, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, veteran or marital status.

Project Overview and Role

The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) is supporting a four year (2013-2017) Livelihoods and Food Security Programme (LFSP), aimed at contributing to poverty reduction through increased incomes for smallholder farmers. The programme will actively address the specific constraints that smallholder farmers – particularly women and youth – face in increasing the productivity of their farms and participating in markets. The LFSP is being implemented in eight selected districts (Gokwe South, Kwekwe, Shurugwi, Guruve, Mt. Darwin, Makoni, Mutasa and Mutare). The two major components of LFSP are the Agricultural Productivity and Nutrition (APN) component, managed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Markets Development component (MD); managed by Palladium (a global development management firm, formerly GRM International). With close synergies, the two components are being implemented as a single programme within the same geographical areas.

Specifically, the programme aims to;

  • Ensure food and incomes for farmers and their families
  • Increase long-term profit for farmers
  • Deepen farmers’links to agricultural markets
  • Increase production and consumption of different forms of food to ensure a balanced diet and prevent malnutrition

Markets Innovation Fund (MIF)
Within the programme districts MD and APN partners are identifying potential crop and livestock value chains, organising farmers into groups, applying demand driven and pluralistic extension services from both public and private sector and employing climate smart technologies to support improved production of quality products that meet market standards. With support from the MD component, through Palladium contracted grantees, farmer groups will be linked to viable markets within and outside the project districts. Palladium is contracting grantees through the Markets Innovation Fund (MIF). One of these grantees is Farm Shop.

Farm Shop
Farm Shop is a Zimbabwean agro-input and service provider, providing services to the agricultural sector, including smallholder farmers. One of the services being planned is that of tillage services for smallholder farmers. Target farmers typically have between 2-5 ha of land, though they may only prepare only a fraction of this area for cash crops during the season, usually with ox-drawn ploughs. Fields are typically scattered because of the distance between farmers with commercial outlook who would demand such services.

Farm Shop is receiving development assistance through a DFID grant managed by Palladium. An important component of this assistance, is the development of mechanised tillage services, preferably based on conservation tillage principles. The company is newly recovering from its initial efforts to initiate these services which failed due to the importation of poor quality faulty 12hp four-wheel tractors.

One of the lessons learned from this experience is that the company would be better placed if it had received expert advice on smallholder tillage service models that are being used successfully elsewhere in the world; and potential suppliers of quality equipment. The initial bad experience has provided an opportunity to ‘step back’ and reassess the suitability of the original model. Accordingly, this TOR is targeting a smallholder mechanisation expert with global experience to advise Farm Shop on appropriate service models and equipment suppliers.

See Annex 1 for a more complete list of challenges in the delivery of mechanisation services to smallholder farmers please.
This original business model included the following features: (1) Tractors would be equipped with Satellite Tracking to assist in managing operations to firstly, reduce the unproductive time of moving between farmers; and secondly, accurately determine field sizes; (2) An ‘operate-to-own’business where ownership transfer would take place once the operator had achieved target hectares. It was hoped that this model would incentivise operators to high levels of equipment maintenance and productivity. The graduate owner-operator would be provided with the options of continued service provision to Farm Shop, or alternatively could operate independently.


Specifically, the expert will:

  • Identify smallholder mechanisation models that are being used globally, and rate them according to suitability for use in the Zimbabwean situation;
  • Analyse the merits of mechanization service provision models previously used in Zimbabwe e.g. District Development Fund.
  • Identify suppliers of quality equipment, with a proven track record for durability and reliability.
  • Provide recommendations on what equipment would be suitable and assist in fully utilising the tractor over the whole year, i.e. ploughing, planting, cultivating and transporting, as well as comparisons of financial viability.
  • Critique and provide recommendations to Farm Shop on its current model concept, including the IT proposition and ownership transfer concept.
  • Recommend or suggest a workable mechanization service provision model and how this can be scaled to reach more farmers nationally.

The selected Consultant will be expected to provide the following in order to fulfil their contractual obligations:

  • Work plan and inception PowerPoint detailing the strategy to be used
  • Draft reportand presentation of draft report findings
  • Final report, fully responding to comments
Once a list of models is compiled they should be rated/compared side-by-side according a list of relevant criteria including (1) Suitability for Zimbabwean conditions; (2) Revenue potential (considering potential area tilled per day, additional revenue generating uses); (3) Costs (equipment and operational costs); and (4) Profit and time required to repay capital costs.
The format of the report will be agreed in the inception meeting.


  • Advanced Degree in Agricultural Engineering
  • Broad Experience in the development of commercially sustainable smallholder tillage systems

Interested individuals should send their CVs and relevant experience details. The 5-page response must outline understanding of these ToR, the expected deliverables and a CV. These should be sent to