Research at the Centre for Tropical Veterinary Medicine
Animal Power Research and Training
Many farmers in the tropics and sub-tropics rely on draught animals to provide the power necessary to produce food and cash crops and provide transport. Without working animals, cropping practices in many areas have to be carried out by hand, because farm size, terrain and economics preclude the use of tractors and other forms of motorised power. In these areas, use of animal power can reduce drudgery and help maintain or improve crop yields per farm by improving timeliness of planting and/or area planted. Cattle and buffalo are the most commonly used draught animals in the world. However, donkeys are increasingly being used for cultivation on smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa. The donkey cart can be an important source of transport and provide additional cash to the household. Donkeys can also be used by women to help in domestic tasks, such as water and fuel collection, particularly where, for social or traditional reasons, cattle are not used in these activities. Pack animals are often used in areas where the road systems are poor and the terrain too hilly for a cart.
In some urban and peri-urban areas of the tropics, working animals are also important, providing a cheap means of transport where road links are poor or paths narrow. Use of donkeys and horses for transport provides a means by which poorer people, who may not own land, can generate income to improve their livelihoods.