| Animal-Drawn Wheeled Toolcarriers: Perfected yet Rejected |
|7. Observations on Wheeled Toolcarrier Programmes and Reports|
Jean Nolle (1985) suggested that the lack of adoption of multipurpose implements was not caused by the small farmers rejecting the technology, but was because producers were refusing to make and sell such implements. He suggested that producers have had no incentive to make multipurpose implements for they have been able to make more money selling a larger number of single purpose implements He also suggested that the lack of success of his Hippomobile in France was related to a boycott by dealers. It therefore seems useful briefly to review the involvement of the private sector in different regions.
In France the Mouzon company started manufacturing Nolle's Polyculteurs in the late 1950s and has continued (with various company restructuring) to manufacture and market Nolle's designs until the present time. In the past thirty years Mouzon has sold 3000 wheeled toolcarriers, 12000 intermediate toolframes (Arianas) and 53000 simple toolbars (Houe Sine). Other French firms, including Belin International marketed Nolle's toolcarriers for a time but pulled out of the market in the early 1980s when sales proved inadequate.
In the U.K. the NIAE toolcarrier was manufactured mainly by John Derbyshire and by Kenmore Engineering, both of which adapted the design slightly and attempted to identify local agents to market their products in several countries. Both firms were disappointed with their achieved sales (totalling 1400 units) and eventually abandoned manufacturing such products. More recently Geest Overseas Mechanisation manufactured about 120 GOM Toolcarriers (similar to the Nikart). Geest subsequently sold its U.K. manufacturing subsidiary but continued to meet specific orders at a rate of about thirty per year by subcontracting the work. In 1986 Geest saw little market potential for the GOM Toolcarrier, mainly because it was prohibitively expensive for peasant farmers. As a result Geest did not actively market its toolcarriers or maintain stocks of implements or spare parts, but it did continue to meet specific orders in the interests of good public relations (GOM, 1986). The firm of Sahall designed its own toolcarrier in the early 1980s. It gained one large contract for Mozambique and then undertook some exploratory sales missions to Malawi, Kenya and Ethiopia but follow-up sales were not sufficient and in 1985 the firm went out of business.
In Senegal the SISCOMA factory manufactured and marketed wheeled toolcarriers from the 1960s until it ceased business in the early 1980s. Its successor at the premises, SISMAR, initially maintained wheeled toolcarriers as part of its standard range but due to lack of market demand subsequently made these implements only to order. During the period 1983 - 1986, sales averaged less than ten per year. In Cameroon the Tropic factory started to make and sell wheeled toolcarriers in the 1970s but ceased these lines due to lack of sales. In Botswana the Mochudi Farmers Brigade was assisted with aid funds to start production of the Makgonatsotlhe and for eight years attempted to market it. Sales were disappointing and the debts incurred through the toolcarrier programme made it difficult for the Brigade to change to new products.
In India the large manufacturer Voltas attempted to market its Universal Otto Frame in the 1960s and Escorts tried to sell its Balwan toolcarrier, These and other entrepreneurial initiatives appear to have failed through lack of market demand rather than lack of promotion. Following the ICRISAT work on toolcarriers, in the early 1980s several workshops were assisted to start to fabricate wheeled toolcarriers based on Tropicultor or Nikart designs. At least eight firms attempted to market them, but by 1985 there was only a single manufacturer left. This one producer admitted the only real market outlet within India was the rapidly dwindling number of government promotion schemes and so the Director had undertaken sales missions to Africa, North America and Europe to try to obtain orders for donor-assisted aid projects elsewhere in the world.
In Brazil several small workshops were encouraged by the work of CPATSA and reports of the ICRISAT successes to start making wheeled toolcarriers, but most ceased within one year. The one major producer still making toolcarriers in Brazil is actively marketing its Policultor range, but sales are not increasing. Elsewhere in Latin America, there have been several schemes to establish wheeled toolcarrier production, but for a variety of reasons (some unconnected with the toolcarriers) most have been of limited duration.
Thus the private sector has been involved in wheeled toolcarrier fabrication for many years. Some firms have had complementary ranges of single purpose implements while others have only manufactured multipurpose implements. While some companies have ceased manufacturing or trading altogether this cannot be directly blamed on toolcarrier manufacture. In the 1960s firms tried to use private trading companies to market their products, but this did not work as there was no sustained demand from the farmers themselves. By the 1980s the public and aid sector dominated the distribution of agricultural implements in many Third World countries, and this had distorted commercial trading patterns. This distortion, combined with the inability of small farmers to afford wheeled toolcarriers, meant that few companies in the world regarded it as commercially viable to target their manufacturing or marketing towards the end-users. Thus most wheeled toolcarrier-manufacturers that continued in production did so by concentrating on large contracts from governments, aid agencies and development projects.
In 1987 Intermediate Technology Publications released the booklet Multi-purpose Toolbars (ITP, 1987). This derived from the more general publication Tools for Agriculture and attempted to be a brief illustrated catalogue of toolbars and their possible suppliers worldwide. It listed the names and addresses of nineteen manufacturers of wheeled toolcarriers: eight in India, six in Latin America, four in Europe, and one in Africa. The information for these entries had been collected in good faith from the manufacturers during the early 1980s, but by the date of the publication of this booklet thirteen of the nineteen firms listed were no longer actually manufacturing wheeled toolcarriers. Thirteen manufacturers of Nikart type toolcarriers were listed, while in practice in early 1987 there was only one workshop (in Mexico) producing this design on a regular basis. One other workshop in India was still actively trying to market this product, and one British manufacturer made small numbers occasionally in response to specific orders. All the other manufacturers listed had ceased active involvement or interest in such equipment, although some would have still been prepared to quote for large orders. The IT Publication booklet also listed eight manufacturers of Tropicultor-type wheeled toolcarriers, of which only three were still actively involved in manufacturing these implements in 1987. Some other designs listed such as the Sahall and the CPATSA toolcarriers had been completely abandoned. The information on which the publication had been based had been correct when it had been obtained. This illustrates the rapid loss of interest of the private sector as the lack of any real market for these products became clear.
In Tables 7.3 and 7.4 sample prices are given for the basic toolcarrier packages offered by those manufacturers that were actively involved in wheeled toolcarrier production and export in 1986/87.
There seems to be little or no evidence to support Nolle's suggestion that farmers have been deprived of multipurpose implements due to the vested interests of manufacturers. On the contrary the evidence suggests that many manufacturers and distributors would have benefited from developing markets for their products and actively tried to do so. They have on many occasions tried to market wheeled toolcarriers directly, but lack of sales has suggested that there was no genuine market demand from the end-user. As a result some have abandoned their investments in wheeled toolcarriers, while others have concentrated on the irregular but potentially lucrative market for aid donor and development project contracts.