Nelly Bassily | April 14, 2008
There is often a huge difference between the equipment used on large-scale and small-scale farms. The equipment that allows a large-holder farmer to make a profit may be both unaffordable and impractical for a small-holder farmer. Conventional, 65-horsepower tractors are a good example of this. The National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) of Uganda believes that walking tractors are a kind of “in-between” technology that could help small-scale farmers produce larger yields.
Through field tests conducted in Soroti, Mukono, Bushenyi, and Kitgun districts (one district in each of Uganda’s four regions), NAADS calculated the labour and equipment costs for harrowing one acre of land, as follows. (Note that 10,000 Ugandan shillings is equivalent to about 6 American dollars or 4 Euros):
-Hand hoe: 90,000 Ugandan shillings
-Conventional tractor: 70,000 Ugandan shillings
-Ox-plough: 30,000 Ugandan shillings
-Walking tractor: 25,000 Ugandan shillings
It seems that, although walking tractors are widely used by farmers in parts of Asia, only a small number of the machines are used in Africa. The purchase and use of walking tractors by large groups of farmers in Uganda may help to determine how valuable this technology is to small-holder farmers.
For more information on this news story, please visit:
-The National Agricultural Advisory Services website: http://www.naads.or.ug/naads.php
-The Wikipedia entry for two-wheel tractors, also known as walking tractors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-wheel_tractor
For additional programming on appropriate technology, consider the following Farm Radio International resources:
-“Groundnut sheller saves time, boosts profits” (Farm Radio Weekly, Issue 6)
-“Smartly designed animal cart helps Sudanese farmer” (Package 80, Script 10, March 2007)
-“Appropriate farming tools for African women farmers” (Package 82, Script 7, November 2007)
-“Improved cookstoves make life easier for women” (Package 73, Script 2, January 2005)
What sorts of new or traditional techniques and technologies do farmers in your area use to improve their efficiency and boost their yields? You may wish to research a local news story or host a call-in or text-in show that addresses questions such as:
-What traditional technologies or farming techniques do farmers use? Under what conditions are these technologies or techniques most effective?
-Have farmers in your area tried a specific new technique or technology? If so, how did they hear about it?
-If it was a technique, how did they adapt it to suit local farming conditions? What was the effect on their yield and profit?
-If it was a technology, was it purchased by individual farmers or by a farmers’ group? Did the technology prove well-suited to local conditions and needs? What was the effect on yield? Have the owner(s) found supplementary ways to make a profit from the technology (such as renting to other farmers)?