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Is Bullock Traction a Sustainable Technology ?

A longitudinal case study in northern Ghana

by Johann H. Hesse

Paperback e-Book PDF
Institution: Georg
Advisor(s): H. de Haen, W. Manig
Degree: PhD, Agricultural Economics
Year: 1997
Volume: 314 pages
ISBN-10: 158112015X
ISBN-13: 9781581120158


This study examines the question of whether or not the technology of bullock traction has spread in northern Ghana between 1982/83 and 1993/94 and, furthermore, what factors determine changes in the pattern of the adoption of bullock traction in this area.

The introduction to the problem and the objectives of the study in chapter one are followed by a theoretical section in chapter two that focuses on the question why one would have expected a further spread of bullock traction. This chapter explains the direct benefits of bullock traction and reviews the current state of knowledge of this issue. Factors that might have resulted in changes in these direct benefits of bullock traction between 1982/83 and 1993/94 such as population growth and the effects of structural adjustment programs are discussed. Additionally, the implications of the life-cycle of households and the tradition of the inheritance of cattle for changes related to bullock traction adoption over time are identified.

Chapter three introduces the empirical data collection procedure and methods. The study is a follow up study to the study of Panin (1988) who conducted research on the same farm-households in 1982/83, in three villages of the Northern Region of Ghana.

Chapter four presents the empirical findings about the changes in the socio-economic conditions that are relevant for bullock traction adoption in the study villages. These data extend the information in chapter two to the village level. The empirical findings about changes in the effects of bullock traction at the field level are presented in chapter five. The analysis includes the effects of bullock traction on land use, household labor utilization, performance of crop production, and aspects of bullock traction renting.

The effects of bullock traction at the farm-household level were addressed in chapter six. It is necessary to separate the analysis at the field level from the farm-household level analysis because farmers combine different tillage technologies at the farm-household level. This chapter includes changes over time regarding household demographics, resource endowment, farm labor allocation, crop production performance, income statements, and the costs and benefits of an investment in bullock traction.

Chapter seven of this study is concerned with the question of whether the changes in the bullock ownership pattern for the sampled households are in line with general trends at village level. For this purpose, the village census of 1994 was compared with 1982 and the result is that the ownership of bullocks and implements has declined which means that the results of the analysis at farm-household level is in line with general trends at village level. Although individual ownership of bullock traction declined, the area plowed by bullocks in the study area increased because renting of bullock traction services increased.

Chapter eight of the study discusses important empirical results of chapters four to seven in light of the arguments made in the theoretical chapter two and draws attention to the conclusions of the empirical results. Important points discussed in chapter eight are: methodological issues, the labor-saving effect of bullock traction that is maintained over the years, the effect on crop yields that was found to exist in 1982 but not in 1994, the importance of the life-cycle of households to understand changes in bullock traction adoption at farm-household level, and the effects of structural adjustment programs on the adoption of bullock traction. The study ends with the formulation of recommendations for agricultural extension and further agricultural research.

About The Author

The author graduated from Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone after reading philosophy, politics and history. He took a graduate degree in politics at Howard University and finished his education at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. where he earned a doctorate in political philosophy and international politics.

He has lectured at the University of Liberia and also served as a minister of education and foreign affairs of Liberia between 1978 and 1983.

He lived in exile in Africa and Europe from 1983 to 1990 and from 1997 to the present. He has written and lectured extensively on Liberian politics over the years and is at present working on several manuscripts on the military era, the civil war and the involvement of the West African Community in the search for peace in Liberia.

He lives in London with his family.