| Animal traction |
|8. Economic and technical assistance|
A number of factors must be considered when choosing equipment: type of crop, area cropped, climate and soil conditions, availability and type of animal power, potential of local artisans to repair and manufacture parts. Equipment must be durable, affordable, and easy to transport, use and maintain.
Many farmers have recognized the economy and versatility of the multi-purpose breakdown toolframe and purchase it as the core of an equipment package which includes a number of standard attachments. Frame-based equipment is popular because it is easy to move and can be fitted with an assortment of relatively inexpensive blades that achieve various tillage objectives.
For many African farmers, the concept of a toolframe is not new. A handhoe which can be fitted with a mounding blade, a ridging blade, and a weeding blade is especially designed for options. In programs where toolframes are used or available, agents can help farmers understand the versatility of animaldrawn equipment by showing them toolframe options-moldboard plows, ridgers, weeders, cultivators, and peanut lifters.
A one-piece, one-purpose tool appears less complicated and less expensive to beginning farmers, but can cause them trouble later. A nonadaptable moldboard plow lets them turn many hectares of land, but unless they hire extra laborers to ridge and/or weed it, the crops suffer and the yield is poor. They may solve the problem later, by purchasing a ridging plow or a cultivator, or they may decide that animal traction is too expensive and simply return to traditional methods.
Ultimately, it is less expansive to purchase a multipurpose toolframe with attachments than to buy a set of single-purpose tools, unless those specialty tools are locally made and are cheaper than an imported toolframe. Although toolframes look complicated, attachments are easily changed.
Many of the tools used by farmers can be manufactured locally. Yokes, harnesses, harrows, line tracers, plowshares, ridger points, and many toolframe parts can be made by village artisans who are given a model, prototype, or picture to work from. The equipment is often less expensive than imported goods, and it is more readily supplied to farmers.
In some programs, instructors encourage village blacksmiths, carpenters and leathermakers to attend clinics or workshops where they can learn additional skills and techniques. Credit to purchase new tools or materials may be extended to those who attend.
Quality control and tool standardization should be major objectives of training programs, so that artisans can produce replacement parts for local or imported equipment. Individuals, equipment centers, or farmer associations can purchase, stock, or sell them as needed.
Skilled artisans also can supply custom-made equipment such as yokes, harness, sweeps, and sleds. Some artisans work at regional or national manufacturing centers, where wagons, toolframes, and other types of equipment are produced on a large scale.