Nelly Bassily | August 30, 2010
Donkeys are a common sight in many parts of Africa, and are most often used for carrying loads. This story, however, shows they have many more uses. They are valuable assets to a farming family, and not only in mountainous areas.
The donkey is a herbivorous animal and the smallest member of the horse family. Young donkeys are called foals. A young male is a colt and a young female a filly. Adult female donkeys are known as jennies and adult males as jacks.
Donkeys can be affectionate animals. They enjoy company, and need companions or they will become depressed. Donkeys have a reputation for being stubborn, but this can be changed with good training. If they sense danger or become afraid, they may refuse to move.
Donkeys can live to 35 years of age or more. However, in Africa it is more common for donkeys to have a lifespan of around 10 years. The donkey’s favorite pastime is rolling in earth.
Some basic facts on donkeys can be found here: http://www.fao.org/ag/aga/agap/frg/Draught/chap122/chap122.pdf
More information on using donkeys as pack animals is available here: http://practicalaction.org/practicalanswers/product_info.php?products_id=213
For using donkeys as animal traction, this is useful information: http://www.atnesa.org/donkeyworkshop.htm
And here is an interesting story of how donkeys are used as mobile libraries: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/a-13-2008-07-30-voa13-66672542.html
Farm Radio International has produced a number of scripts related to livestock and draught power. Here is a selection:
-Appropriate farming tools for African women farmers. (Package 82, Script 7, November 2007)
-Protect your Livestock in Times of Emergency. (Package 64, Script 3, July 2002)
-Radio Spots About Livestock Health. (Package 63, Script 2, April 2002)
This Farm Radio Weekly news story reported on the increase in use of draught animals:
–Africa: High food, fuel costs make draught power more appealing (Issue 29, July 2008)
Donkeys are often overlooked or undervalued. You may wish to run a feature show that explores how they are used and their value to a family. You could look at:
-Have farmers in this region used donkeys for plowing? What experiences with this can farmers share? What local resources are available to help farmers interested in experimenting with donkeys as draught animals?
-Is raising a donkey costly? Are they easy to look after?
-How has using a donkey increased a family’s income? For example, are farmers able to get more produce to market? What other benefits or uses do they have?