|Better Farming Series 14 - Farming with Animal Power (FAO - INADES, 1977, 57 p.)|
In traditional farming all the work in the fields is done by hand, with very few tools, by man- power alone.
Everything is carried on the head. Each trip you carry only a small amount of goods - a basket of cocoa beans, of groundnuts, of rice, a can of oil, a load of wood.
With animal power for tilling, sowing, hoeing and transport you can make use of the strength of animals.
With animal power the farmer gets less tired. He lives better. Farming is done better. Fields are bigger. Harvests are finer.
The farmer can pay for the animals and tools. He has more money than when he does everything by hand.
At Agoudou- Manga (Central African Empire), with traditional farming, the farmer makes 8000 CFA francs a year.
With animal power, He can make 30000 francs. Each year he repays part of the cost of the oxen, the plough, and the cultivator, that is, 12 000 francs. So he has left: 30000 less 12000 =18000 francs. Thus he makes 10000 francs more than with traditional farming.
In Upper Volta (Mossi country), with traditional farming, the farmer makes 17000 francs.
With animal power he can make 66000 francs. Each year he pays 29000 francs for the donkey, the cultivator, fertilizers and pesticides. So he has left 66000 less 29000 = 37000 francs. Thus he makes 19000 francs more than with traditional farming.
With animal power the farmer can:
· save time, because work is
done much faster with animals;
· get farming jobs done in good time;
· do some of his jobs better;
· have bigger fields.
Work is done much faster with animals.
At Niangoloki (Upper Volta), to grow a hectare of groundnuts, that is, an area equal to a football field, 190 eight- hour days are needed each year if work is done by hand.
But with animal power only 145 eight- hour days are needed each year.
To grow a hectare of food crops such as millet, maize or sorghum requires 85 working days a year if work is done by hand.
With animal power only 57 working days a year are needed.
The time the farmer saves by using animal power should be used to work other fields.
But although the work is done more quickly, the farmer has to spend some time in looking after his oxen, his donkey, in training them and feeding them.
Getting jobs done In good time
We saw in an earlier course (Booklet No. 7) that crop yields are much better if the sowing is done at the right time.
Cotton sown at the beginning of the rains yields 656 kilogrammes per hectare; but cotton sown one month after the first rains yields only 240 kilogrammes per hectare.
Sowing seed and applying fertilizer by hand on a one- hectare field requires 30 working days.
With animal power, sowing the seed and applying the fertilizer requires 4 working days.
Animal power is very useful chiefly because with it you can get certain jobs done well and quickly
Doing jobs better
Animal power also helps to work the soil better.
Tilling is more regular and deeper
(see Booklet No. 7, page 8).
Sowing in rows (see Booklet No. 7, page 15) is done at a good density (see Booklet No. 1, page 16).
Intercultivations are done more often (see Booklet No. 7, page 21).
Harvesting is quicker.
With animal power, as the work is done more quickly, the farmer makes better use of his time and can farm bigger fields.
At Niangoloko (Upper Volta), a farmer works by hand a field of 1 hectare.
With animal power he can work a field of 2 to 4 hectares.
But, to farm with animal power, you must:
· make a good choice of fields and lay them out well, that is: choose fertile land; lay out big, rectangular fields; clear all the fields and grub out all the trees;
· make a good choice of crops;
· make a good choice of oxen and donkeys;
· train the animals well: teach them to work;
· feed the animals well: a well- fed animal is strong, so make a reserve of food for the dry season;
· take good care of the animals;
· make a good choice of tools, and take care of them;
· work out correctly what animal power costs and what it brings in.