In many parts of the world, farmers have adapted hoes and cultivating tools so they can be pulled by people, animals or engines. Animal traction is the use of animals to pull farm equipment, vehicles, and other loads to increase agricultural productivity.
In Sierra Leone, bulk of the farmers can’t afford the use of modern farming equipment like tractors, power tillers and the like to aid their farming activities due to the expensive cost to hire one of these modern farming machines.
As a result, the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARi) with funding from the European Union Development Fund through the Boosting Agriculture and Food Security (BAFS) Project has reintroduced a farming technique known as animal traction to assist farmers in their farming exercises such ploughing, harrowing, planting, ridging, harvesting, weeding and the rest.
Research Assistant at SLARi Samba Prince Turay said they are training farmers on the use of this old age technique because that was what farmers before now were using to have huge harvests. He said after the eleven years civil war in Sierra Leone, a lot of people have forgotten this animal traction technique in their farming activities.
Agricultural mechanization has become a high priority in developing nations. Prince Turay said this innovation is important because farmers using traditional techniques are unable to produce sufficient food for increasing populations, and with the use of animal traction, it can expand the area under cultivation and provide better soil preparation, leading to greater harvests.
Twenty five farmers in Falaba district were the first set of beneficiaries to be trained by SLARi on animal traction techniques, and one of the female beneficiary farmers said that was her first time seeing and experiencing such farming technique. She said the technique has the potential to boost their agricultural productivity, but with the same old farming technique they will never meet the high food demand for the increasing population in the district and their financial needs.
Benefits of animal traction to farmers include lightened workloads, better and more regular yields, or an easing of problems caused by short growing seasons or insufficient labour and can also help to produce income with which farmers can acquire goods and services for themselves and their families.
Through funds from the EU, SLARi is always striving to give farmers tools, information and advice to enable them increase productivity.