Choice of technology in the grain milling industry in Tanzania

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study focuses on choice of technology within the grain milling industry is Tanzania. The interest in this particular area stems from its relevance both analytically and policy wise. The initial choice of technology has major consequences not only for plant layout, type and nature of machinery and equipment to be employed but also on the overall production organization which shape technological progress. The interest in the grain milling industry stems from its policy relevance in a basic needs oriented development strategy currently being pursued in Tanzania. Another reason for undertaking this study stems from the renewed interest in the promotion of small scale industries by policy makers in Tanzania. The scope of this study is limited to maize and rice milling activities, however, being the most important food grains grown both for commercial purposes as well as for subsistence in Tanzania. To obtain the necessary data, a two-phase survey has been undertaken. In phase one, it was necessary to carry out a preliminary (pilot) survey so as to find out the economic basis for stratifying the sample. This was so because inadequate alternative sampling frame existed. The pilot survey covered both Dar es Salaam and Arusha towns. A total of 170 firms were covered so as to get a comprehensive picture of the different technologies employed. The permit economics and to ensure proper representation of each category of firms, firms have been stratified into three groups: household, custom and merchant milling firms. In the intensive field survey, 83 selected custom and merchant milling establishments were then subjected to an intensive (micro-level) survey using a pre tested questionnaire. It has been found out that technological choice is sensitive to product quality characteristics and institutional aspects of firm and market organization. Thus valid comparison of operational performance and technological differentials between custom and merchant mills cannot be constructed. A second important finding emerging out of the study is that the institutional and macro-economic policy environment within which milling firms operate has had an important indirect effect on the actual technological choices made. Thirdly, it has been established that the grain milling industry in Tanzania has built up over the years a technological structure which is not homogenous in terms of machine characteristics. Lastly, it appears that there are no significant economics of scale in the grain milling industry and substitution of manual for mechanical operations in the milling process is feasible.
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Milling machinery, Valuation, Grain, milling, Technology assessment, milling
Bagachwa, M.S. D (1987) Choice of technology in the grain milling industry in Tanzania, doctorial dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (