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Animal Traction and Small-scale farming: A Stellenbosch Case Study

  • The case study of a farm, where working oxen were introduced " investigated the possibility of animal traction emerging as an affordable, environmentally-friendly and appropriate technology for small-scale farming. The findings showed that oxen were a more cost-effective means of draught power than a tractor, not only in terms of capital costs but also as maintenance and operational costs. The manure from the oxen was both an effective way of supplying crops with essential nutrients and improving soil biodiversity. The introduction of the oxen presented some challenges to the farmer concerning knowledge about how animals work and other managerial challenges, but these were overcome by learning through practice. It was found that the farmer will be able to make significant savings in soil-amendment costs and he can control the quality of the manure to suit his needs. It was concluded that small-scale farmers who choose animal traction over tractors as a means of draught power will realize many advantages in return."
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Animal Traction in Ghana

  • This research examines the use of animal traction and analyses the major constraints to its widespread use in Northern Ghana. Findings suggest draft animals (bullocks and donkeys) are used to perform a wide set of activities ranging from land preparation, weeding, on-farm and off-farm transport, and the carting of goods and individuals in the three northern regions. The study shows that with 12 acres per season and 4 years of work, draft animal users can break-even and cover their investment in animals and equipment. Some of the factors constraining greater use of draft animals included an aging labor force; scarcity of “plowboys”, as the boys who traditionally do the plowing are attending schools; fast-wearing plowshares; poorly designed harnesses, yokes and implement beams; lack of raw materials and metal scraps for local fabrication of implements; limited dry season feed and water; and theft. Any mechanization strategy should seek to address sustainably the constraints faced by animal traction users.
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La traction animale:une innovation en phase d'institutionalisation, encore fragile

  • Animal traction: an innovation being institutionalized, but still fragile. The central Africa savanna zone counts 265 000 draft animals (40 % farms equipped in Chad, 25% in Cameroon and 10% in Central African Republic). The two oxen working system dominates. In Cameroon, 30% of working animals are donkeys. Cotton companies have largely contributed to promote animal traction for cotton and food crops. Animal energy is especially used for plowing, secondarily for maintenance operations and transports. It allows mastering weeds, contributes to water management in the field and to soil fertility by animal manure. Animal energy allows increasing cultivated area per farm and income diversification. Until now, because of poor knowledge and lack of financial means, producers meet difficulties to own a harness and to take profit of it. A range of support services was generated via projects and development companies. Today, with the withdrawal of States, new actors emerge in this "market" (veterinarians, blacksmiths, credit, farm advice...). Some have difficulties to supply the needs of producers, to release enough profitability and are asking for support. Previously, the issues for research were technical. Today, it is necessary to understand the institutional reconstruction, the evolution of needs, to support innovation and to strengthen cooperation process between new actors.
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