Improving agricultural labour efficiency through oxenization and its impact on food security in Ukerewe District, Tanzania
A formative evaluation was undertaken in Ukerewe District to elicit the benefits of ox-plough over hand-hoe tillage. One hundred twenty two respondents who were selected purposively from their involvement in the project that introduced ox-plough technology in Ukerewe were interviewed. The interview employed a questionnaire designed to capture data on availability of agricultural labour, labour expenditures for tillage and weeding, crop growing cycles, crop yields and income expenditure on food as they were at the beginning and at the end of the project. It was found that adoption of ox-plough technology reduced tillage labour from 7.14 man-days to 1.58 man-days per acre, whereas weeding labour in farms ploughed using ox-ploughs decreased from 6.78 man-days to 4.58 man-days per acre. Further, adoption of ox-plough technology lead to increase in crop growing cycles, acreage and crop yields from 1.03, 0.9 and 13.3 to 1.9, 3.11 and 37.2, respectively. Concurrently, the ratio of annually produced cereal bags to household size improved from 1.73 to 4.83, while the ratio of income generated to income expended on food increased from 1.63 to 3.10. In abridgement the intervention reduced farming drudgery to create a room for increasing cropping cycles, a factor which interacted with improvement in soil characteristics and enhanced weed control due to increased tillage depth and hence tremendously increase in crop yield. It was concluded that ox-plough technology harnesses potentials for addressing hunger poverty.
Keywords: acreage, agricultural productivity, cropping cycles, labour, tillage