Animal traction: an innovation being institutionalized, but still fragile.
The central Africa
savanna zone counts 265 000 draft animals (40 % farms equipped in Chad, 25% in Cameroon and 10%
in Central African Republic). The two oxen working system dominates. In Cameroon, 30% of working
animals are donkeys. Cotton companies have largely contributed to promote animal traction for cotton
and food crops. Animal energy is especially used for plowing, secondarily for maintenance operations and
transports. It allows mastering weeds, contributes to water management in the field and to soil fertility by
animal manure. Animal energy allows increasing cultivated area per farm and income diversification.
Until now, because of poor knowledge and lack of financial means, producers meet difficulties to own a
harness and to take profit of it. A range of support services was generated via projects and development
companies. Today, with the withdrawal of States, new actors emerge in this "market" (veterinarians,
blacksmiths, credit, farm advice...). Some have difficulties to supply the needs of producers, to release
enough profitability and are asking for support. Previously, the issues for research were technical. Today, it
is necessary to understand the institutional reconstruction, the evolution of needs, to support innovation
and to strengthen cooperation process between new actors.
BENEFITS OF WORKING EQUINE ANIMALS ON WOMEN’S LIVES IGNORED, FINDS NEW REPORT
It has found that working donkeys, horses and mules provide crucial support for women in developing countries but are being overlooked in international gender and livestock policy. The report Invisible Helpers was published by global animal welfare organisation the Brooke, which is calling for greater recognition of the role of working equine animals.
An estimated two thirds of poor livestock keepers – approximately 400 million people – are women, and working equine animals have rarely been considered in livestock research. The study aims to fill this gap by reporting the perspectives of women from equine owning communities themselves on the impact these animals have on their lives. The report is based on discussions with focus groups and individuals in Ethiopia, Kenya, India and Pakistan.
It found that working equine animals help to lessen the burden on women’s lives, providing a ‘support system’. Over three quarters of the groups (77%), including all of those in Kenya and India, ranked donkeys, horses and mules as the most important of all their livestock. They generate income, help with household chores, give women an increased social status and, importantly, help women collect food and water for other livestock.