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.
This contribution was presented at the SOAS DONKEY CONFERENCE 2012. The author deals with the roles of donkeys and mules in Latin America and especially in the Andes after the arrival of the Spanish conquerors and he describes their importance for transport and their impact on economy and society.
BENEFITS OF WORKING EQUINE ANIMALS ON WOMEN’S LIVES IGNORED, FINDS NEW REPORT
It has found that working donkeys, horses and mules provide crucial support for women in developing countries but are being overlooked in international gender and livestock policy. The report Invisible Helpers was published by global animal welfare organisation the Brooke, which is calling for greater recognition of the role of working equine animals.
An estimated two thirds of poor livestock keepers – approximately 400 million people – are women, and working equine animals have rarely been considered in livestock research. The study aims to fill this gap by reporting the perspectives of women from equine owning communities themselves on the impact these animals have on their lives. The report is based on discussions with focus groups and individuals in Ethiopia, Kenya, India and Pakistan.
It found that working equine animals help to lessen the burden on women’s lives, providing a ‘support system’. Over three quarters of the groups (77%), including all of those in Kenya and India, ranked donkeys, horses and mules as the most important of all their livestock. They generate income, help with household chores, give women an increased social status and, importantly, help women collect food and water for other livestock.
Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala very in size, in human population numbers
and in human population densities. Similarly they vary in the numbers of domestic animals. Cattle are
by far the most important species that produce meat and milk. Equines, especially horses are important
as transport animals. The contribution of livestock and their major edible products to the national
economies of all countries remains considerable in the range of 11 to 15 per cent. No data are available
on the value added to the economy by animals through providing energy for crop production and
transport of goods and people and it appears that this contribution is not included in any official
accounting system. Research on improving the output and contribution of work oxen to agriculture and
the economy as a whole has been limited and spasmodic. Most purported research on equines has been
related to welfare considerations including improved health and better systems of foot care and
harnessing. A small number of network operations support the use of oxen mainly for energy (draught
power) supply. Many international charitable foundations provide finance and expertise for improving
the welfare of horses (as well as donkeys and mules) but these are generally small scale and of limited
temporal duration. Oxen are use mainly to provide on-farm draught power but also are important in rural
transport operations. Horses supply services in both suburban and urban areas as riding animals, in
carriage work and to a more limited extent in providing other power applications.
Key words: work oxen, horses, animal welfare, animal nutrition, equine diseases.