Animal traction and small-scale farming : a Stellenbosch case study

Manjengwa, George Munyaradzi (2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The main aim of this case study was to research the impact of the introduction of oxen for draught power on Eric Swarts’ Stellenbosch farm. The research objectives were designed to find out if the oxen helped to improve the quality of the soil, to determine their cost-effectiveness (compared to a tractor) and other social and managerial constraints and benefits associated with using them and also to make recommendations for small-scale farmers in developing countries. The literature review revealed that human society faces many serious sustainability challenges from ecosystem degradation and global warming, to massive poverty and social inequality. The global population is growing against a background of decreasing agricultural productivity due to degraded soils and the increased costs of farming. The adoption of farming methods that enhance ecosystem services and depend less on external inputs is therefore essential. Animal traction is still widely used among small-scale farmers in developing countries, but lacks policy and investment support to make it more efficient. There are currently widespread negative opinions about animal traction which regard it as a backward or old-fashioned technology. This research investigated the possibility of animal traction emerging as an affordable, environmentallyfriendly and appropriate technology for small-scale farming. The research is a case study with a qualitative, ethnographic research design in which participant observation was key in gathering research data. A cost-benefit analysis (CBA) was carried out to compare the cost-effectiveness of using oxen to either hiring or buying a tractor. The findings showed that oxen were a more cost-effective means of draught power than a tractor, not only in terms of capital costs but also maintenance and operational costs. The manure from the oxen was both an effective way of supplying crops with essential nutrients and improving soil biodiversity. The introduction of the oxen presented some challenges to the farmer concerning knowledge about how animals work and other managerial challenges, but these were overcome by learning through practice. It was found that the farmer will be able to make significant savings in soil-amendment costs and he can control the quality of the manure to suit his needs. It was concluded that small-scale farmers who choose animal traction over tractors as a means of draught power will realise many advantages in return.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die hoof doelwit van dié gevallestudie was om die impak van die ingebruikneming van osse as trekkrag op Eric Swarts se plaas te Stellenbosch na te vors. Die navorsingsteikens was ontwerp om uit te vind of die beeste gehelp het om die kwaliteit van die grond te verbeter, om hul lonendheid vas te stel (in vergelyking met ’n trekker) asook ander sosiale en bestuursbeperkings en -voordele wat met hul gebruik geassosieer word en ook met voorstelle vir kleinskaalboere in ontwikkelende lande voorendag te kom. Die literatuuroorsig navorsing het ontbloot dat die menslike samelewing met vele volhoubaarheidsuitdagings vanaf ekosistemiese agteruitgang en aardverhitting, tot swaar armoedigheid en sosiale ongelykhede gekonfronteer word. Die wêreld bevolking groei steeds ten spyte van die afname in landboukundige produktiwiteit as gevolg van verlaagde grondkwaliteit en die toenemende landboukoste. Die ingebruikneming van landboumetodes wat ekosistemiese dienste verhoog en minder staatmaak op eksterne insette is dus noodsaaklik. Dieretrekking word steeds algemeen in ontwikkelende landebenut, maar dit ontbreek beleids- en beggingsondersteuning om dit meer doeltreffend te maak. Daar is tans algemeen verbreide negatiewe sienswyse oor dieretrekksag wat dit as agterlike en oudmodiese tegnologie beskou. Dié navorsing het ondersoek ingestel om die moontlikheid van dieretrekking as ’n bekostigbare, omgewingsvriendelike en passende tegnologie vir kleinskaalboerdery vas te stel. Die navorsing is’n gevallestudie met kwalitatiwe, etnografiese navorsingsontwerp waarin deelnemerwaarneming kern is tot die insameling van data. ’n Kostewinsteanalise (KWA) was uitgevoer om die lonenheid van beeste te vergelyk met dié van of die huur of die koop van ’n trekker. Die bevindings het getoon dat beeste ’n lonender wyse van trekkrag as trekkers is, nie net in terme van kapitale koste nie, maar ook onderhouds en bedryfskoste. Die beesmis was beide ’n doeltreffende manier om die gevasse van nodige voedingstowwe te voorsien asook om grondbiodiversiteit te verbeter. Die ingebruikneming van beeste het sekere uitdagings vir die boere ingehou in verband met die kennis van hoe diere werk en ander bestuursuitdagings, maar dié was oorkom deur onderrig uit ondervinding. Daar was bevind dat die boer beduidende besparings kan maak aan grondaanvullingskoste hierdie jaar en dat hy die kwaliteit van die beesmis kan beheer om sy behoeftes dien. Die slotsom is dat kleinskaalboere wat kies om dieretrekking eerder as trekkers as trekkrag te gebruik, sal vele voordele hê.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6542
This item appears in the following collections: