Animal traction and small - scale mechanization
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CTA. 1997. Animal traction and small - scale mechanization. Spore 69. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48727
Draught animal power is making a greater contribution than ever before to global food production. Economically efficient andeasy to use, animal traction not only reduces fuel-oil costs but also provides the added benefit of manure. Farmers'...
Draught animal power is making a greater contribution than ever before to global food production. Economically efficient and easy to use, animal traction not only reduces fuel-oil costs but also provides the added benefit of manure. Farmers' increasing willingness to cooperate, and the political and macro-economic climate in which they now have to operate, will continue to favour the use of animal power. We seem to be in a phase where, globally, the use of animal power is increasing, says Philippe Lhoste, Director of Livestock Agriculture at the Centre de cooperation internationale en recherche agronomique pour le developpement/Elevage et medecine veterinaire des pays tropicaux (CIRAD/ EMVT). 'The use of animal power is greater now, at the end of the 20th century, than it was at the end of the 1 9th century because the population, and therefore the demand for food, has tripled,' continues Philippe Lhoste. Animal traction has considerable development potential, especially in the developing countries of the South where there has been little intensification of farming practices. In small and medium-sized farming enterprises, it is rare to find motorized machinery being used to cultivate the land. In Senegal, for example, no more than 510% of the land is cultivated by tractor. Animals are used for cultivation and for transport on 20%-40% of the rest of the land. The rest of the work is still done by hand. esnecially sowing weeding and harvesting; and; with more than 70% of farmers in developing countries using only hand tools, manual labour and the porterage of goods is still widespread. According to Gerard de Thiec of CIRAD, draught power is a relatively well adapted technology and there IS evidence that its use continues to grow. 'In sub Saharan Africa the number of draught animals increased from 10 million in 1980 to 12 million in 1990. Over the last 20 years animal traction has quadrupled in the francophone countries. In phone countries. In 1990, the number of livestock and the number of agricultural implements (ploughs, cultivators, carts and seeders) at 2 million ' There is particular enthusiasm for draught power for certain types of cash crop farming. For example, it is used for 70% of the cotton production in the south of Mali and for 90% of the groundnut production area of Senegal. But there are also many advantages in its use for growing food crops such as maize in East Africa and rice in Madagascar. Throughout the world there are many species of livestock currently being used for draught power - equines, bovines and camellias. For animal traction programmes the principal and most difficult challenge is to promote proper management and husbandry of draught animals. Livestock owners still have much to learn about caring for their animals' welfare, in particular their health. Some extension programmes have promoted better feeding at the end of the dry season, using locally available agricultural byproducts. Rummants will accept groundnut hauls and maize, rice, sorghum or millet straw. Cottonseed cake is often overlooked, but can be used as animal feed. Two or three hundred kilogrammes, at the end of the dry season, is enough for two oxen and what the animals do not animals do not eat can be incorporated into the litter and the manure. There is a wide range of tools and implements available to owners of draught animals, whatever their environmental conditions or farming system. There are modern and efficient tools for soil preparation, maintenance and weeding, light ploughs for donkeys, medium weight ploughs for horses and heavier ploughs for oxen. Results achieved by local blacksmiths have been very encouraging. For Gerard le Thiec, 'In comparison with industrial enterprises, networks of local craftsmen have shown greater capacity to adapt.' These results are significant in countries that have a tradition of blacksmithing and where animal traction is well-developed (Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Senegal). About two thirds of the carts and half of the groundnut lifters in use in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal have been made locally. However this applies to less than 10% of the ploughs of local manufacture in Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea. In Mali, several thousand cultivators have been made locally, as well as hoes. It remains difficult, however, to match competence to need. Networks which provide a link between local blacksmiths are an important means by which small-scale mechanization can be promoted but they need to focus attention on the problems of credit, standardization, and the provision of spare parts. It is economic constraints which hold back animal traction. More often than not, farmers want to invest in animal power but the cost is too high. In north Cameroon, for example, a team of two oxen and a plough costs between FCFA 300,000 and 400,000. If the farmer also wants to buy a cart, he or she must add a further FCFA 250,000. The capacity for financing a family business has greatly diminished over the last 20 years. Commercial outlets are limited, the size of individual businesses has shrunk as a result of demographic growth and the availability of credit has scarcely improved. If there is to be any growth in small-scale mechanization and animal traction, governments will have to provide security for the necessary investment by organizing the market for agricultural products, by guaranteeing prices and setting a consistent customs tariff. Finally, as Gerard de Thiec emphasizes, 'Farmers' organizations are indispensable. They must prove their ability to rove their ability to manage equipment programmes and to formulate their requests for agricultural materials precisely. In the absence of both development and professional agricultural organizations, there are two obstacles to the direct supply of materials: an individual farmer's lack of collateral and the lack of interest shown by banks in taking on small accounts. A farmer organization is the only credible negotiator in the eyes of a commercial bank.'
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