Appropriate farm machinery
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CTA. 1986. Appropriate farm machinery. Spore 3. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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The 57th International Agricultural Machinery Show (SIMA) held in Paris from 9th to 16th March 1986 included a collective stand for small-scale manufacturers who are not usually represented at the show. At this stand visitors were given a good...
The 57th International Agricultural Machinery Show (SIMA) held in Paris from 9th to 16th March 1986 included a collective stand for small-scale manufacturers who are not usually represented at the show. At this stand visitors were given a good overview of all the machines which are exported to the tropics. In case anyone was taken in by the range and quantity of equipment on show, it should be made clear that very few of these are found on a wide scale in Africa. The only forms of machinery that are making real inroads and attracting a growing number of farmers are draught operated and postharvest equipment Very little farming is undergoing light or heavy tractorisation. Manual cultivation is still the norm in much of sub Saharan Africa: more than 80 % of the land is cultivated by hand. Countless attempts have been made to modernise this pattern of agriculture but the initiatives have largely been based on the European experience. They have usually proved ill-suited to the soil and crops of these countries and, above all, to the socio-economic conditions of the farmers Today, fortunately, there is a general move back towards solutions which are more closely tailored to the local situation. Most of these rely on draught animals, which increasingly appear to be an essential first step towards the development of smallscale motorised mechanization. that most people are seeking. South of the Sahara, draught animals are traditionally used in Ethiopie; at the moment they account for no more than 15 % of the land under cultivation; animals are used in the Sahel, particularly in areas where farming and pastoralism overlap. This method of cultivation is only practised, however, where crops bring in enough money for peasants to be able to make the investment pay. Draught-operated cultivation has not caught on in Guinea where trypanosomiasis is rife and where there is therefore no tradition of animal breeding. As the first stage in the process of agricultural mechanization, animal power has clear advantages, as is shown by the renewed interest it is arousing both at the research level and in terms of government policies. It provides a gradual introduction to the methods of preparing the land with straightforward, easy-to-maintain equipment, and it uses a form of energy produced on-the-spot. Animal power immediately increases to ten or twelve hectares the surface area each farmer can cultivate, and helps to assure their food self-sufficiency. A considerable amount of money can also be made out of the use of draught animals for transport and the sale of these animals for meat. Most of the draught-operated equipment in existence is designed for land preparation which remains the major constraint in manual cultivation. There were many examples of such equipment at SIMA: hoes ploughs, harrows, cultivators, toolbars and multi-purpose cultivators. Also on show were seeders, often combined with muck-spreaders; however, there is a growing tendency for these devices to be manufactured locally, since to be effective they need to be designed specifically for the local agricultural conditions and draught animals (cattle, horses or donkeys). One African manufacturer from Swaziland was represented at SIMA, having taken the sensible view that his robust, draught-operated equipment, tried and tested for years by farmers in that region, could be of interest to other African countries Motorised mechanization is nowhere near as widespread as animal power. Only 1 % of land is cultivated in this way. Before this percentage can be increased, a whole range of technical solutions will be needed to meet the needs of different forms of cultivation without going beyond the farmers' means. The last few years have seen efforts to adapt equipment for these countries, but the very small market which exists for this motorised equipment makes it impossible to produce it on-the-spot at an attractive price; although it may occasionally be put together in Africa, it is always manufactured outside the continent The most basic form of motorised land preparation is motorised cultivators, of which a few Chinese models were on show at SIMA, and motorised toolbars where the implements are placed between the front and back wheels of the apparatus. Motorised cultivators have yet to make an impact in Africa; they were not successful when introduced in areas of irrigated cultivation because it is hard for farmers to apply two new techniques (mechanization and irrigation) at the same time. These small devices, which can be very useful, need further testing and technical simplification to overcome maintenance problems in these countries. They would be very suitable for small-scale farming, particularly for vegetables, however their lack of power restricts their usage. As a result, for the past fifteen years, research workers and manufacturers have concentrated on a form of motorised mechanization referred to as intermediate, more powerful than these small machines, but not so powerful as conventional tractors; they have developed 20 to 30 HP tractors, designed for tropical crops, adapted so they can be used and maintained by small farmers and are not too expensive. The best known in Africa are the small hydrostatic Tinkabi tractor developed in Swaziland and the TE tractor introduced by the cotton industry in French-speaking Africa. The latter was on show at SIMA and is a simplified tractor with manual start and belt transmission, made up of pieces which are easy to take apart and replace. It was initially designed for use in cotton fields but has now been adapted for other crops. Since the end of the seventies 1500 TE tractors have been exported to Burkina Faso, Mali, Cameroon and, above all, to Ivory Coast (600 tractors). To date, they have only been introduced in cotton growing areas where animal traction had already started the process of crop mechanization and where maintenance and training can be provided. These small tractors make it possible to cultivate larger areas. Within a few years peasants are able to use the extra income generated to obtain equipment to tend their crops, and then start the process of intensification. However, the key factor in this process of intensification remains the use of fertilizers and improved varieties rather than the introduction of new methods of farming. Experience shows that at least 18 to 20 hectares are needed to make a tractor pay; scarcely 1 to 3 % of plots in West Africa reach this size, although, where feasible, villagers could group together to overcome this obstacle to intensification. Moreover in Guinea, where animals are not used for cultivation, the introduction of tractors requires a difficult technological and financial leap. The renewed interest in animal power and the development of intermediate forms of motorised mechanization are partly a result of the repeated failures of heavy tractorisation. After the Second World War the tractor, symbol of all that was powerful and modern, was seen as the answer to everything. Throughout Africa, from Guinea, where tractors brought from Rumania could never be used, to Ghana, to Madagascar and, on a smaller scale, in every other African country, thousands of tractors imported at great expense lie rusting, pathetic relics of a past age. FAO calculates that of the 25 million tractors currently in existence throughout the world, 150 000 of these are to be found in sub-Saharan Africa and many of these are unusable. High-powered tractors are too expensive, consume too much energy and are too difficult to maintain. Farmers cannot afford them, and the short rainy season makes it difficult for groups to use them collectively. Furthermore, using these tractors means denuding large areas of land of all natural vegetation, often harming the fragile African soil which is all too easily eroded. It is also very rare for farmers themselves to own and operate these conventional tractors. This only happens in the Highlands of East Africa where they were introduced many years ago by Europeans before being taken up by local farmers, in a few areas of heavy soil which cannot be cultivated manually and which respond well to intensification (irrigated or flooded rice plains, the savannas in the Sudan), as well as some major coffee, cocoa and banana plantations in Ivory Coast. Most of these tractors are owned by agro-industrial companies who alone can afford, maintain and make profitable use of them. Aid organisations and African governments are now aware of these problems and, on the whole, have abandoned the blanket goal of heavy 'tractorisation' preferring to leave the initiative to those who have the means in the private sector. To date, most research into tropical machinery has concentrated on the process of preparing the land while harvesting is still done by hand. Mechanization may well make it possible to increase the amount of land under cultivation per unit of effort, but harvesting this land by hand calls for a large labour force which is not always available in regions where urban drift is a growing trend. This agricultural bottleneck shifts as machinery is developed for the successful phases of agricultural development from preparing the land to tending the crops and harvesting. Furthermore, in the case of some crops such as rice, quick harvests allow a second crop to be grown. Draught-operated harvesting equipment is practically non-existent because of the lack of draught animals. However, a few intermediate motorised machines have started to appear. On show at SIMA was a rice harvester developed by C.E.E.M.A.T. (Centre for Study and Experimentation into Tropical Agricultural Machinery), Paris, France. This machine threshes rice on the spot leaving the straw behind in the field, thus harvesting and winnowing in a single operation. The 6-to-8-horsepower machine was designed for small paddy fields. Having been tested in Senegal and Cameroon, it will soon be mass-produced. A more powerful and conventional machine, the Belin B2200 combine harvester which was awarded the silver medal at SIMA this year, is specially designed for the tropics and can harvest different types of cereals and grasses. But its high price means it can only be used by entrepreneurs and in large plantations. While the tractorisation of land preparation has hardly begun and depends on a well organised system of credit and predictable agricultural prices, motorised equipment for post-harvest operations is making considerable inroads and does not entail the introduction of global development projects. Because these stationary machines are not subject to the same weather restrictions as machines worked in the fields, they can be bought and used collectively by groups of farmers, often women, villages or cooperatives, and no one needs to spend too much money. Because they make the job so much quicker and more pleasant their profitability is immediatly obvious to all. Faced with this expanding market, manufacturers are trying to diversify the range of equipment on offer and motorise all operations from harvesting through to food production. Different types of mills and grinders have of course been in existence for a long time, ranging from small, hand-operated cereal mills to big hammer mills which can grind both maize and cassava. These machines, which were on show at SIMA, have sold particularly well. But threshing, shelling and husking machines are also taking off; some recent models of these were on display at SIMA. They include the Ecomat threshing machines, with different models for rice and peanuts, and the Bamba machine on sale in French-speaking Africa which can be used for millet and sorghum, cowpeas, maize and rice. Other machines adapted for use in forested areas are more specifically designed to deal with maize. Several manufacturers have just developed husking machines for rice which should be on the market soon. This sector, which is certainly a growth area, affects both town and countryside. If urban dwellers are to be able' to consume local produce, less time must be spent on processing it and motorised equipment is essential. African agriculture needs to be mechanised and motorised if these countries are to increase their agricultural production to feed a population which is growing rapidly, particularly in the towns. The solutions put forward must of course meet the technical requirements, but they must also take into account the economic and social environment of each particular region because this will often determine the success or failure of programmes and projects designed to modernise agriculture in these countries Field of abandoned tractors in Ivorv Coast BIBLIOGRAPHY C E E M AT Manuel de motorisation des cultures tropicales 1974 2 volumes 120 FF C E E M A T. Maintenance du materiel agricole tropical 1977 New edition 1984 35 FF. C.E.E.M.A.T. quarterly magazine annual subscription abroad 142 I F. C E.E.M.A.T. books and subscriptions: Parc de Tourvoie 92160 AN I ONY, France. Techniques rurales en Afrique series produced by Ministere de la Cooperation et du Developpement Books available from Documentation Francaise, 124 rue Henri sarbusse 93308 Aubervilliers cedex. France. Books by Post'' Intermediate Technology Publications Itd. 9 King Street. London. WCZE 8 H W, U. K. Tools for Agriculture. A buyer's guide to appropriate equipment IT publications Unit, 25. Longmead, Shaftesbury. Dorset. U. K. Price: £ 15.
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