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Abstract

The use of animal traction as a source of on-farm power has often been regarded as a logical and appropriate approach for improving Sahelian agriculture. Animal power, it is argued, enables the farmer to execute timelier agricultural operations and to overcome the seasonal labor constraints which inhibit agricultural production. Furthermore, by increasing total production and returns to farm labor animal traction makes possible the attainment of food self-sufficiency and an increased marketable surplus. There has been a relatively long history of attempts to introduce animal traction in the Sahel, but in spite of the proposed theoretical benefits resulting from its use, the many efforts of integrating animal traction into the traditional farming systems have met with limited success. Moreover, past experience has raised questions concerning its appropriateness given the Sahel's physical and socio-economic environment. Nevertheless, with the advent of the Sahelian drought in the late 1960's, national governments and donor agencies have increasingly promoted animals traction as a viable technological alternative for increasing and stabilizing agricultural production.

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