Draught animals in rural development

Type Book Section - Role of Draught Buffalo in Rural Sri Lanka
Title Draught animals in rural development
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1990
Page numbers 46-52
Publisher Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
URL http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/134382/2/PR027.pdf#page=44
Prior to 1945 buffaloes were widely used in Sri Lanka for farm power. Government farm
policy began to change rapidly with the introduction of tractors in 1945-46. As a result of this
policy, by the end of 1987, 70% of paddy land in the Dry Zone and about 45070 of the paddy
land in the whole of Sri Lanka was worked with tractors. The official support for the policy in
favour of the use of tractors took the form of bank credit, the concessionary availability of
foreign exchange, low import duties and subsidies on fuel. There were two main reasons given
for this suPPOrt: mechanisation would increase food production, and tractors would modernise
The tractor-based strategy had several disadvantages: (I) It created new social differentiations
between the farmers and tractor owners, resulting in the exploitation of the farmers; (2) It
displaced family labour from agricultural activities, particularly in the management of draught
animals; (3) It depleted foreign exchange; (4) It resulted in higher costs of operation; and (5) It
was uneconomic for smallholders.
There is now a reverse trend towards draught animals in rural Sri Lanka, particularly in new
colonisation schemes in the dry and intermediate zones. Under the schemes each family is given
1 ha of paddy land and 0.2 ha of highland, and the settlers generally prefer draught animals,
particularly buffaloes, to provide the necessary farm power.
As the person~land ratio becomes smaller, with smaller grazing grounds for draught animals,
DAP will be limited in countries like Sri Lanka. Therefore research should be continued with
greater vigour to produce supplementary animal feeds such as urea-ensiled paddy straw. It has
to be noted, however, that farmers will accept new animal feeds only if available at a price
which they can afford. The establishment of common grazing grounds is also a necessary
prerequisite for the improvement of DAP.

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