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Shambat farmers experience in utilizing draught animals in agriculture.

A study was carried out in the vegetable production farms at Shambat during June and July 2001. The main objective of the study was to identify and test the employment of draught animals in the agricultural production in the area.

Data was collected using a questionnaire and direct field observations. It included information on the type of animals, their harness, work rates and efficiency.

The results showed that the dominant type of draught animals is oxen working in pairs aria harnessed in a double shoulder yoke to perform land preparation only.

Work rates of draught animals in land preparation were relatively moderate ranging between 0.2 and 0.4 feddans/h for the majority of the farmers, at relatively high efficiencies of 70 to 90%.



Draught animal technology (DAT) refers to the employment of large four-foot domesticated animals in different aspects of life (FAO, 1990). Animal power is a renewable energy source that is particularly suited to family-level fanning and local transport. Domestic work animals exist in most regions of the world and assist in eliminating poverty, reducing the drudgery of work and creation of wealth. Animal traction is particularly important for food security in smallholder farming systems who are responsible for much of the food production, as it saves household women and children time by carrying water and fuel wood (Starkey, 1994). The transportation role of animals in carrying farm input (seeds, fertilizer and crop protection perquisites), and output was clearly presented by FAO (2000).

Animal traction has a long history in agricultural production. It has played, and still plays, an important role in meeting the power requirements in many parts of the developing world (Panion and Ellis, 1994). Draught animal technology can be aft important and viable technology for rural development. It should be one integral component of rural development and mechanization strategies. Money invested in animal power circulates within rural areas, helping in revitalizing rural economies.

Immigrants coming from upper Egypt introduced animal traction to the Sudan several decades ago. At present draught animals are used in the country for water lifting, transport and land preparation for agriculture. However, the farmers in the country accepted DAT by tradition (Mohamed, 2001).

Study objectives

This study was conducted to achieve the following objectives:

1- To identify the state and art of draught animals employment by Shambat farmers.

2- To determine and provide work rate ranges of the plough harnessed to these animals.

Materials and Methods Study area

This study was conducted on the vegetable production farms in Shambat area during June and July 2001. Shambat is located along the eastern bank of the River Nile, and is a typical agricultural area where different types of vegetables and sometimes fodder crops are grown. The area is characterized by a fertile silt-loam soil.

Sample size and methods of data collection

A sample of thirty farmers was randomly selected to identify and test the state and art on draught animals employment by Shambat farmers. Randomization was carried out by selecting the first of each three farms starting at the upper end of the area:

Data was collected through a questionnaire and direct field measurements. The data was then analyzed statistically to present frequency tables. Correlation test was performed to examine the relationship between some factors.

Implement performance measures

1. Forward speed (km/h)

The forward speed of the plough was determined using a stopwatch and a tape meter. As the operator started working, the watch was set on, and when he finished the forward path, the watch was set off and the time (min) was recorded. The distance of travel was measured using the tape meter, then the forward speed was determined as follows:

Forward speed (km/h) = distance of travel (m) x 0.06/time (min)

2. Field capacity (feddan/h) and field efficiency (%)

The field capacity (feddan/h) was determined using two stopwatches and a tape meter. One of the two watches was used to record the net working time in which the implement is operating (turning time is excluded), and the other one to record the total operation time (times in which the implement is operating plus the time taken in turnings at the plot ends). The plot area worked ([m.sup.2]) was measured using the tape meter. Then the field capacity (feddan/h) was determined from the following equation:

Field capacity (feddan/h) = Area (m.sup.2] x 0.014/total working time (min)

The field efficiency (%) was determined from the ratio between the net and total working time as follows

Field efficiency (%) = net working time (min) x 100/total operation time (min).

Results and discussion

Table 1 (See Annex) shows draught animal related data. All farmers employ only oxen as draft animals to perform agricultural operations. This is probably due to heritage justifications. When this technology was introduced to the area, it came from upper Egypt in which water buffaloes were used as draught animals for centuries. In the Sudan the environmental conditions do not suit water buffaloes. Thus, they were replaced by the popular oxen, which are the nearest species to the water buffaloes. However, this is in accordance with the FAO (1990) who reported that the selection of draught animals types depends on the local conditions rather than on other factors.

Animal traction in Shambat is employed to perform agricultural operations only. Small trucks transport farm inputs and products. This is attributed to site-specific factors. Shambat lies in the vicinity of paved traffic network, thus small trucks can best perform this role at even reasonable cost. The transportation role of draught animals is more important in remote areas where farm products should be transported to collection points first, wherefrom they can be transported by trucks to the main markets.

Amongst the different cultural practices, only land preparation (ploughing and leveling) is performed using draught animals. While the other practices are accomplished using hand tools. Land preparation is the most cultural practice demanding power input; hence employing draught animals for this task reduces the drudgery of work falling on the farmers' back. On the other hand, implements for harvesting are relatively sophisticated in their design, while the local technical know-how lies way behind in this regard. This, however, highlights the importance of extension engineers' role to cope with the local needs in terms of design, testing, development and introduction of new implements for better utilization of the employed draught animals. Testing and introduction of new implements should be carried out at the farm level involving the farmers themselves to specify their needs and expectations of the newly designed implements.

Most of Shambat farmers (66.7%) obtain their draught animals at high cost, while equal numbers of the farmers obtain their animals at medium and low cost (16.7% each). These inconsistent responses are due to the fact that animal-pricing process is rather relative than fixed, and this depends, to a great extent, on the animal size, training, sex as well as the general economic situation in the market. However, purchase price responses are in accordance with FAO (1972).

As far as the daily working period of draught animals is concerned, it was noticed that all farmers share the same tradition of splitting work period into two shifts. The first shift in the early morning and the second in the afternoon. This is particularly to avoid the high midday temperature, which affects the performance of both the operator and his draught animals. Continuous-long work hours have negative effects on the quality of wok performed as well as on the efficiency of time utilization. This is more serious in soil tillage, which requires high power input. Animals get tired quickly during tillage, and unless given rest they tend to be slower and may stop working for a while, thus leading to a poor time utilization efficiency. The majority of Shambat farmers (86.7%) work with their draught animals for less than eight hours per day, while the rest (13.3%) work for eight to twelve hours per day. Discussing work periods apparently in connection with the area to be worked or farm size is misleading in a way. Working period is, or should be, proportional to the area to be worked. In this respect, farmers who work for fewer hours cultivate smaller plots of land and vice versa.

Draught animal Harnessing issue in Shambat

Results of harness type, selection basis, material and purpose are shown in Table 2 (See Annex).

All Shambat farmers harness their tools to pairs of draft animals using a double shoulder yoke. The yoke is made of a horizontal wooden log held at the animal's shoulders and fixed in place by short wooden logs working as side locks to prevent the main harness log from slipping to the side. When a plough is used, a pole type of power transmission means is connected at the center of the harness. Thick ropes replace this pole when a leveler is used. This change is mainly because ploughing is tougher (due to the high soil resistance) than leveling and requires high power transmission that cannot be provided by the ropes. The double shoulder yoke proved to be easy to construct, harness, and repair as the farmers pointed. Farmers comments on harness are in accordance with FAO (1990). On the other hand, manufacturing, the harness entirely from wood makes it affordable, light and easy to be handled.

The majority of Shambat farmers (80%) selected the double shoulder yoke on tradition basis, while few of them (16.7%) based their selection of harness on tradition and performance. A minor portion of them (3.3%) based the selection process on performance only. Generally, the selection of a technology of any level of sophistication should never be merely justified by tradition, but rather by its adaptation to the local conditions and by its ease of operation and performance,

Most of the farmers (56.7%) indicated that both animal control and power transmission are the main purposes for which a harness is selected, while 36.7% of them indicated that animal control is the primary factor in harness selection. A minor portion of the farmers (6.7%) selected the harness basically for power transmission. Selecting a harness for "animal control only is rather ancient, as there are many ways for animal control other than the harness. Animal control through verbal commands is successfully followed by most of Shambat farmers, while the harness is set for power transmission.

Work rates and efficiency

Data on forward speed, field capacity and efficiency is presented in Table3 (See Annex). Shambat farmers tend to work at moderate to low speeds (66.7%) and only few of them work at moderately high to high speed (33.3%). The forward speed ranged from 1-2 km/h for one fifth of the farmers (20%), from 2-3 km/h for 46.7%, while another 20% operate at 3-4 km/h. Ten percent of the farmers work at moderately high speed from 4-5 km/h, and only one farmer (3.3%) work at high speed of 5-6 km/h. Working speed is rather relative and is associated with the operation type. Ploughing requires low speed for efficient work (as a result of its high draught power requirements). However, the speed range depends on, and is governed by, the specific operation conditions from animal, tool, operator's skill, soil type, plot dimensions and their interaction. Hussein and Sarker (1978) reported the same speed ranges using a country plough in Pakistan.

As a direct function of the forward speed, the field capacity (feddan/h) followed the same trend. The majority of farmers (80%) obtained moderate to low capacities, while 20% obtained moderately high to high capacities. The detailed frequencies were as follows; 43.3% of the capacities were between 0.1 and less than 0.2 feddan/h, 36.7% between 0.2 and less than 0.3 feddan/h and 16.7% between 0.3 and less than 0.4 feddan/h. Only one respondent (3.3%) obtained a capacity in the range between 0.4 and less than 0.5 feddan/h. Comparable results of field capacity were reported by Wohab et al. (1997).

Field efficiency (%) results revealed that few farmers (6.7%) operate at relatively low efficiencies of less than sixty percent. The majority of farmers (63.3%) operate at moderately high efficiencies from sixty to eighty percent. Those who operate at high efficiencies of more than eighty percent constitute 30% of the respondents. Field efficiency is generally a multifunctional parameter; as it can be affected by the forward speed, farm size and shape and operator's skill along with the working period of draught animals. The aforementioned factors are supported by the result of the correlation test carried out between field capacity and forward speed. The test indicated an insignificant weak relationship between the two parameters (r = 0.07 and P = 0.73). The weak relationship can be attributed to the animal fatigue when working at high speed for longer periods.

The interaction between field capacity and forward speed is shown in Fig. 1 (See Annex). The figure, however, shows a tendency towards obtaining high capacities at relatively low to moderate speed ranges. This can be justified by the animal ability to work steadily under the non-restricting conditions of moderate speed, unlike the high-speed ranges. On the other hand, the relationship between field capacity and efficiency reveals that high efficiencies are relatively associated with low field capacities as Fig. 2 below (See Annex) shows.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Based on the results of this study the following conclusions can be drawn:

--Shambat farmers successfully use animal traction in land preparation.

--Pairs of oxen harnessed in a double shoulder yoke are the most popular type of harness used in the area.

--Moderate work rates at moderate speed and efficiency are relatively more common than high work rates.

Accordingly the following can be recommended to promote draught animals' utilization in the area:

--On farm research trials are needed to evaluate power requirements of the different implements used with draught animals in the area.

--Attempts to introduce new types of implements (other than for land preparation) should be considered involving the farmers themselves.

--Engineering extension programmes will be expected to play a crucial role in the development of draught animal's technology in the area.
Table 1. Showing types of animals, type of work and purchase
cost of draught animals

Type of draught animals

Category Frequency Percentage

Donkeys -- --
Cows 30 100%
Other -- --
Total 30 100%

Type of work

Category Frequency Percentage

Ploughing only -- --
Leveling only -- --
Ploughing and leveling 30 100%
Total 30 100%

Purchase cost of animals

Category Frequency Percentage

Low 5 16.7%
Medium 5 16.7%
High 20 66.7%
Total 30 100%

Table 2. Harness type, basis of harness selection and harness
purpose in Shambat

Harness type

Category F * %

Shoulder 30 100%
Head -- --
Other -- --
Total 30 100%

Basis of harness selection

Category F %

Tradition 24 80%
Performance 1 3.3%
Both 5 16.7%
Total 30 100%

Harness purpose

Category F %

Control 11 36.7%
Transmission 2 6.7%
Both 17 56.7%
Total 30 100%

* F = frequency

Table 3. Showing forward speed (km/h), field capacity (fed./h)
and field efficiency in land preparation using draught animals

Forward speed (km/h)

Category F Percentage

1-1.9 km/h 6 20.0%
2-2.9 km/h 14 46.7%
3-3.9 km/h 6 20.0%
4-4.9 km/h 3 10.0%
5-5.9 km/h 1 3.3%
Total 30 100%

Field capacity (fed./h)

Category fed/h F Percentage

0.1-0.19 13 43.3%
0.2-0.29 11 36.7%
0.3-0.39 5 16.7%
0.4-0.49 1 3.3%
0.5-0.59 -- --
Total 30 100%

Field efficiency (%)

Category Frequency Percentage

Less than 60% 2 6.7%
60-69% 9 30%
70-80% 10 33.3%
80-90% 4 13.3%
More than 90% 5 16.7%
Total 30 100%


--FAO (1972). The employment of draught animals in agriculture. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, Italy.

--FAO (1990). Selection of mechanization inputs. Agricultural Engineering in Development Bulletin no. 84.

--FAO (2000). Draught animal power: An over view. AGSE report. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome, Italy.

--Hussain, D. and Sarker, R.I.(1978). Performance studies of country ploughs in Bangladesh. Agricultural mechanization in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Vol 9, No. 3: 10-14.

--Mohamed, M.S. (2001).. Production and distribution of animal traction implements in Southern Darfur State, Sudan, Challenges in the 21 century. Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC), Nyala station, Sudan.

--Panion, A. and Ellis, J. (1994). Increasing the profitability of draught animals. In: Proceedings of the first workshop of the Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (ATNESA).

--Starkey, P. (1994). Improving animal traction technology. In: Proceedings of the 'first workshop of the Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa (ATNESA).

--Wohab, M.A.; Satter, M.A.; Borhan, S.; Ahmed, S. and Khan, F.R. (1997). A promising animal drawn plough. Agricultural mechanization in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Vol. 28 No. 1: 23-25.

Elsamawal Khalil Makki (School of REED, Ahfad University for Women)
COPYRIGHT 2004 Ahfad University for Women
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Makki, Elsamawal Khalil
Publication:Ahfad Journal
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Jun 1, 2004
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Next Article:Batool Addella Salama, Hiba Ahmed Eimin and Hoyam AbdellaGadir Abu Giba (2003) The Environmental Effect of Shanty Dwellings in Sudan.

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