Hand labor, tractor labor and horse labor: a question of power and scale

"To understand why we farm the way we do today it is important to look back to where our agriculture began and how it changed. From there onward we can look at the question: Why do we farm or why would we want to farm with live horse power in small scale vegetable farming? When we look at hand labor, tractor labor and horse labor as three different power sources,where do horses fit in? From the historical perspective to a present day perspective we can shine new light on having (a) 'four legged employee(s)'."

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.

La traction animal

An updated illustrated practical guide to animal draught. The book is enriched with results from recent experiments and comes with a CD-ROM containing additional information. Draught animals are still widely used in many developing countries, where smallholders often still work by hand. Draught animals can reduce the laboriousness of human work and lessen poverty in developing countries by facilitating soil cultivation and transport. Animal traction boosts the productivity of agricultural labour and contributes to the sustainability of mixed systems combining crop and animal production on small family farms. This updated and illustrated practical summary of knowledge on animal traction is enriched with results from recent experiments into animal well-being, producer and craftsman associations and environmental impact. Practical solutions are proposed in all these fields. The book, which is deliberately succinct, comes with a CD-ROM containing additional information: technical advice notes, reference texts, case studies and photographs. It is primarily intended for producers, technicians and development staff, but is also a reference tool for tutors and students in higher education. Philippe Lhoste is an agronomist and zootechnician specializing in animal traction, and is currently Director of the Agricultures tropicales en poche collection. Michel Havard is an agronomist at CIRAD, working on agricultural mechanization, producer dynamics and agricultural advice services in sub-Saharan Africa. Éric Vall is an agronomist and zootechnician at CIRAD, working on the sustainability of mixed crop-animal production systems in sub-Saharan Africa, who previously studied draught animals and the dynamics of innovation in terms of animal traction. La traction animale Philippe Lhoste, Michel Havard, Éric Vall Éditions Quæ, CTA, Presses agronomiques de Gembloux Agricultures tropicales en poche collection 2010
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