| Animal-Drawn Wheeled Toolcarriers: Perfected yet Rejected |
|6. Experience in Latin America: 1979-1986|
In Nicaragua animal traction is widespread, and based on traditional arc-type wooden prows and wooden carts with large wheels in the more isolated areas. Steel equipment imported from the USA is more common in the areas around towns. Since 1982 CEEMAT has been closely involved in the development of animal traction equipment through its associations with the National Appropriate Technology Research Centre (CITA) and an EEC-supported project with an animal traction component. In 1982 the French equipment designer Jean Nolle visited Nicaragua to establish the production of a small number (10-25) of toolbars and before leaving he had fabricated one Tropicultor wheeled toolcarrier, and one Ariana intermediate toolframe.
One of the CEEMAT workers involved with the project appeared to be highly pessimistic about the future of toolcarrier production (Bordet, 1985). On the production side there were problems relating to cost of production, insufficient trained manpower, a lack of raw materials of suitable quality, and the limited resources and skills of village blacksmiths. More importantly perhaps, there were also serious doubts as to whether multipurpose equipment was actually desirable.
Most cooperatives in Nicaragua have several pairs of animals, and if single purpose implements are used, different pairs can be plowing, harrowing and transporting at the same time. However, should they be equipped with one wheeled toolcarrier, it could only perform one operation at a time. The wheeled toolcarriers thus have the disadvantage of being less flexible than a comparable range of single purpose implements and did not appear to have any compensating technical advantages in performance over the simpler implements. The heavier weight and restricted manoeuvrability of the wheeled toolcarriers make them unsuitable for use in the mountainous areas. Finally for the price of a Tropicultor wheeled toolcarrier in Nicaragua it would be possible to buy a whole range of simpler implements, including a cart made of imported steel (Bordet, 1985). Thus the early impressions suggest that there is unlikely to be a genuine market demand for wheeled toolcarriers in Nicaragua in the near future.