A direct link between improved cotton production in Shinyanga and the rapidly increasing popularity of ox carts has been painted out by Emmanuel Bulugu writing in a recent issue of the Sunday News.
The article explained how cotton production had dropped in the region in the mid 1970’s partly because of the villagisation programme. For peasants who wanted to continue to use plots they had previously cultivated in villages which had then been abandoned, long distances became an obstacle not only to continued cultivation of the crop but also the harvesting. The peasants did not have time to make the long journeys involved.
However, with the advent of animal drawn carts in Shinyanga, things are now changing for the better. The carts have greatly simplified transportation of the cotton from distant plots to primary cooperative societies.
The whole business is in private hands. One entrepreneur was said to have started with one cart in Shinyanga town. Each weekend he would go to town to collect the money his previously unemployed ‘driver’ had earned for him. Soon he had bought three more carts for work in the town and two which he employed in carting crops in his village. Now many others are following his example and areas previously too far away to be cultivated are coming back into production.
The carts are not being manufactured only in Shinyanga. There are now private cart makers in several urban areas including Maswa and Lalago. The carts are well constructed with pneumatic tyres on vehicle axles and expensive timber is used in their construction. Cart makers are charging Shs 50,000 to 70,000 per cart.