BOOKS

Andrew Coulson of the Institute of Local Government Studies in the University of Birmingham has reviewed: “Resources and Industry in Tanzania; Use, Misuse and Abuse” by J.V.D. Jones (Tanzania Publishing House, Dar es Salaam, 1983). He writes:

The most common starting point for discussions of industrialisation is markets: if a market for a product can be identified, then a project to manufacture it is proposed. The industrial process is usually based on imported raw materials and equipment and all too often the proposal itself is made by someone who has a vested interest in selling either industrial inputs, or – more likely – machinery. It is not surprising that so many projects created in this way turn out badly. They give a bad taste to the whole process of industrialisation in countries such as Tanzania.

The strength of this book is that it starts not from markets, but from the raw materials available, and describes how they could be used to develop a self-reliant industrialisation in Tanzania. Both large-scale and small-scale processes are discussed, without any vested interests.

The author was a lecturer in chemistry at the University of Dar es Salaam, who subsequently moved to Development Studies and worked with the university students and contacts in the parastatals to assemble the mass of information assembled in this book.

Obviously what can be developed in the future depends on what exists already. The book therefore describes the processes used in existing Tanzanian factories. But it also recognises that these are determined to a large extent by the historical origins and ownership of the companies who made the investments. A theme which occurs many times is the interrelationship between industries. If coal is to be mined, a variety of the industries are needed to use both the coal and its by-products. If a rural industry is to use hydroelectricity, then the planners need several years’ warning. If salt is to be electrolysed to make caustic soda for the soap and glass industries, then uses for chlorine must also be found, e.g., to make hydrochloric acid, PVC, or insecticides. A self-reliant industrialisation is too big and complex to happen spontaneously {n a country with markets as small as those in Tanzania. It therefore has to be planned around a small number of key industries, as the experience of socialist countries teaches us.

This is therefore a uniquely valuable book, not just one for specialists. It includes many positive suggestions and should be available for reference by anyone concerned with developing projects in Tanzania. I hope it gets the distribution it deserves both inside and outside the country. It would be tragic if shortage of a basic raw material (paper) and industrial capacity (printing) prevented widespread use of this handbook, which points to the only way in which in the long term Tanzania can avoid its present cruel dependence on imports.

Andrew Coulson

Professor Royston Jones has sent us the following review of a recent book: “Problems and Contradictions in the Development of Ox Cultivation in Tanzania” by Finn Kjaerby Research Report No.66, Centre for Development Research, Copenhagen and Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, Uppsala, 1983.

The message of Kjaerby’s report may be summarised as follows. The Government has given verbal encouragement to the use of oxen for cultivation, but financial aid has still gone to tractors, although the use of tractors has failed because of lack of expertise and servicing facilities. Agricultural development plans have paid insufficient regard for the peasant farmers’ customs and their intimate knowledge of their local conditions. Oxen and ox ploughs are in demand in some areas and efforts are needed to meet present demand. Demand in other areas is hampered by lack of funds and lack of knowledge about the advantages of ox-ploughing. There is still room for much field experiment in the development of the most appropriate agricultural tools for the different Regions, although much of the past experimental work away from the realities of true site conditions has not been of great value.

The report examines the development of animal traction for smallholder peasant farmers against a background of failures of more capital intensive technology in relation to the present energy and production crisis in under-developed countries. It is pointed out that the slow and uneven success of the ‘green revolution’ has resulted in an increasing acknowledgment of ‘the need for increasing the source of farm power in agricultural systems dependent on hoe cultivation and human energy … ‘ The report examines in detail the potential of animal traction, which is stressed in a growing body of literature. A review is made of the agricultural mechanisation policies of the Tanzanian Government during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Despite the failures of cooperative tractor mechanisation and emphasis on animal traction given in political statements, the lion’s share of funds and efforts continued to be concentrated on tractor mechanisation for the villages.

Ox ploughing by African farmers in Tanzania has had a history of only some 50 years and has depended almost entirely on the single furrow mouldboard steel plough, whereas in Ethiopia a locally made wooden scratch plough (the ‘ard’) with a horizontal fitted iron blade has been widely used for more than a thousand years. A rough estimate gives a number of some 70-80 thousand ox ploughs in Tanzania at the end of the colonial period.

Among the socio-economic factors in colonial times determining the spread of ox ploughs were the development of a profitable cash crop and the growth of wage labour, whether migrant labour in mines, employment on settler farms, or salaried employment. Savings from cash crop production and wage employment rather than credit constituted the main source of investment capital for the purchase of oxen and ploughs. Government extension and trial work played virtually no role in the spread of ox ploughing. The process arid pattern of adoption was one where the initial innovators had the opportunity to learn about profitability and skills from settlers and missionaries. They succeeded with ox ploughing in their villages, where others became interested and could learn the skills.

The distribution of ox ploughing until very recently has remained uneven and has depended upon a variety of factors, including infrastructure facilities for marketing, transport and repair services, soil conditions and the availability of grazing access for cattle, the possibility of growing suitable crops like cotton, rice, maize, wheat and coffee and the presence of settler farms and missionaries. It is probably safe to conclude that even in areas where ox ploughing has become fairly common, the ratio of those who acquired ploughs remains low in relation to the number of households. The main reason is the unequal ownership of cattle, which determines access to draught oxen.

It is rather difficult to assess the impact which the development of ox farming has had on the rural economy. It seems that the concern about lower yields has been somewhat exaggerated. In the long run the only way to overcome this problem is to intensify production through the development of ox powered comprehensive mechanisation spread more evenly over the farming population in relevant areas. Of even greater importance is the fact that comprehensive ox cultivation can relieve one of the most immediately pertinent constraints on agricultural productivity, namely, the excessive workload on the women in weeding and transport.

Recent plans for the increased production of ox equipment are criticised in terms of the choice of appropriate equipment. One of the most needed items in addition to the ox cart is an inter-row weeder, or cultivator for relieving the critical weeding bottleneck. Kjaerby suggests that the production of a tool bar should be planned, such as the proven light weight ‘houe sine’ made in Dakar, to which can be attached a single plough share, a ridger share, chisels, tines, a groundnut lifter and even an eco-seeder. Other alternatives are also considered.

The author reviews in detail the problems of research, design and production of a comprehensive range of appropriate equipment. There is criticism of the value of tests made in rather favourable experimental environments. If peasant agriculture is to benefit from the Tanzanian research institutes, it must be based on the actual conditions of peasant farming, viz., sloping fields, stone and weed problems, undersized oxen, problems of seed quality, etc.. Given the present shortage of mouldboard ploughs and the crying demand, the time would seem ripe to introduce the Ethiopian ‘ard’, which pushes its way through the soil without inverting or overturning the topsoil, especially in semi-arid areas. It is cheap, easily made and easily operated.

The author discusses the changes in land use brought about by villagisation and population growth and suggests various possible developments and modifications of ox drawn implements appropriate to the new situation based on applied research. The most serious constraints on production, he believes, are weeding and transport, pointing to the importance of ox carts and inter-row weeding equipment. As many implements as possible, including ox carts, should be capable of manufacture and repair in small village workshops.

Mr. Kjaerby concludes his book with suggestions about the use of agricultural credit and with speculations about the changes in social relationships that may be brought about by a growing use of ox technology, particularly with respect to the role and influence of women. He comments on the past tendency in design work to draw uncritically on European concepts and to go for solutions which cannot be realised under peasant farming conditions. He recommends two levels of research, which must be closely coordinated:

(1) Farming systems research to identify major constraints and adaptive testing of implements on individual peasant farms.

(2) Adaptive design and testing work at research stations simulating peasant farming conditions.

There is a great variety of peasant farming systems and agro-economic zones in Tanzania, which necessitate local specific solutions to technological problems and constraints. Mr. Kjaerby repeatedly emphasises the need for the closest possible attention to realistic feasibility studies in the field in order to avoid a continuation of past failures and the application of inappropriate technology.

Royston Jones

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.