Prototype small-scale farm machines such as a solar dryer, the ‘Kisar’ manual rice mill and a peanut sheller have been designed, constructed and piloted in several farming communities in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. A farmer participatory research approach allowed farmers to learn by doing, resulting in them gaining the confidence to make their own machines. The approach also resulted in a better understanding of farmer realities, including the use and lack of access to farm machinery, particularly for rice and peanut production. The research capacity in the design and development of farm machines was enhanced and mini-engineering workshops and a thermo-physical laboratory were established. An economic assessment of the prototype machines showed that the ‘Kisar’ rice mill was the most cost beneficial machine as compared to other rice mill machines as its usage in rice growing communities reduces transport and milling costs for farmers who normally bring their rice to rice mills (for household consumption) in urban centres.