|GATE - 1986/4 - Draught Animal Power (GTZ GATE, 1986, 52 p.)|
Draught Animal Power
Draught animal power is extremely important in the Third World,
as the 400 million working cattle, horses, donkeys, buffaloes and camels
directly and indirectly serve 2 billion people in Asia, Africa and Latin
America. Draught animals are used to cultivate up to half of the total area
cropped in developing countries, and they haul 25 million carts. In India alone
there are 80 million draught animals and together these provide more power than
the hydroelectric and fossil fuel power stations in that country.
Animal power represents an efficient, appropriate technology that makes use of renewable sources of energy. Draught animals are generally part of highly adapted, integrated small-holder farming systems where they have a variety of different technical, economic and social functions that reduce tee drudgery of village communities and improve the efficiency of their operations.
The focus of this issue is on animal power utilization. In his article "Animal Power in Africa: Perspectives, Preconditions, Priorities" Paul Starkey provides an overview of current use of draught animal power in Africa, and suggests that about 10 - 20 per cent of farmers in Africa are now using animal traction. He notes that there have been prejudices in the past, when animal traction was seen as a hindrance to the universal long-term aspiration to motorized power sources. However, in most countries now, animal traction is seen as entirely complementary to other mechanization options, for animal traction initiatives are generally aimed at improving the efficiency of the many farmers who presently use manual lab our. There are few, if any, people who advocate the use of animals where tractors are affordable, profitable, efficient and ecologically appropriate. However, until such conditions become widespread in Africa, there will certainly be an important role for animal power.
The importance of this complementarity of manual, animal powered and motorized technologies is also stressed in the article "Adapting Training in Appropriate Technology to a Conventional Training Centre" by René Fischer, who discusses a programme in Zimbabwe to develop animal traction training facilities alongside other mechanization technologies.
Appropriate training services are considered by Paul Starkey to be a precondition for the successful development of animal traction but these and other services can be provided by the private sector, whether traditional or modern, where animal traction is intrinsically profitable. For example, in parts of Ethiopia and Asia animal traction is maintained entirely by traditional village based services. However, in areas with limited experience of employing animals for work, projects can provide a vital stimulus to the introduction and spread of animal power use. Some initiatives in introducing animal traction are described in the article by Franz Rauch.
In the Cameroon project, and others in Africa, women are being assisted to benefit from using draught animals in their farming operations, for it is socially very important that a new technology does not create benefits for men at the expense of women and children. However, another animal power technology being developed may bring particular benefits to the women who have to raise water from wells and grind food grains. In a GATE project described by Eduardo Busquets mills have been developed that allow a single animal to grind maize, millet or rice.
Another means of diversifying animal use is through transport, which can relieve lab our bottlenecks and create new opportunities for production and marketing.
Initiatives such as these are most valuable if they are based on experience elsewhere and if the lessons learned are shared with others. Thus an early part of the GATE animal power project was a historical and geographical review (published by GATE as "Animal Powered Systems" by Peter Lowe), and several reports of progress have been disseminated in this publication. The importance of such an historical perspective is also made clear in the article by Klaus Herrmann, who throws light on the history of draught animal husbandry in Europe.