African Mechanization


 The PLOW versus the TRACTOR

In order to prepare the soil for planting, tilling or plowing the soil removes weeds and shapes the soil into rows for crop plants.

A light, inexpensive metal plow that is pulled by a donkey or an ox can help overcome this problem. It allow for earlier planting because of high productivity. The plow is made lighter than many plows in other part of the world due to the arid conditions and the fact that it is being pulled by one donkey only or sometimes by a camel.

The kind of plow is an intermediate technology, which has been used for years in the Middle East and Asia. Studies have shown that families that have access to a donkey and a plow can increase their harvests by 500%.

The development of an intermediate technology brings together farming, metalworking and the production of improved harnesses. The metal comes from scrap, which is usually obtained from old vehicles. The blade, for example, would be made from leaf springs from old suspensions. The steel is useful as it can easily be hardened through quenching by a blacksmith to produce a hard wearing surface.

Plow versus tractorPlow versus tractor

One ox on credit, 20 kg of a variety of seed grains and a plow and harvest cost US$200.

Bullock drawn disc harrow: The operator’s seat enables the operator to ride instead of walking, which helps in deeper penetration and reduces drudgery.

Plow versus tractor

Ransome Victory (Moldboard) Plow, which is commonly used throughout Southern Africa, was quickly adopted over earlier, heavier models that required multiple spans (teams) of oxen.

Plow versus tractor
Plow versus tractor

The advantages of the Ransome Victory plow are that it is relatively cheap (US$100–200 requires only a single span of oxen to pull, and in wet soils, can be handled by even a youth.

There are always problems along the way: the lack of high-quality feed during the dry season limited the single ox especially for the first cultivation of the season.

The disadvantages of the Ransome Victory are its relatively shallow draft (20 cm), the fragility of the torsion bar, and the short plowshare, which tends to leave an uneven, smeared furrow in clayey soils unless well-handled. Furthermore, the Ransome Victory plow is nearly unusable in dry soils, limiting its use until after seasonal rains have sufficiently saturated the soil.

The annual plowing of fields without fallowing or sub-soiling (“ripping”) has led to severe losses of topsoil due to surface erosion. Furthermore, the repeated plowing at the same depth has caused the formation of hard pans due to the weight of the land side pushing down on the underlying soil. This hard pan restricts water infiltration, limiting the soil’s ability to absorb and retain water; it also severely restricts root growth of crops, which in turn has a negative impact on crop yield. 


We can move one step up to the rotary driven disc plows and a 25 hp to 65 hp tractor in Africa: it saves 89% labor and operating time and also results in 80% saving in cost of operation compared to conventional method of plowing by bullock drawn country plow.


Plow versus tractor
Plow versus tractor

Living Water MicroFinance Inc. lowers the cost. 

The nearly new equipment has a real value of $100,000 hypothetically. The agricultural equipment dealer or farmer working with the dealer receives a tax refund benefit at the rate of the last $1000 owed to the government; say 30% of 100,000 or $30,000 from Living Water MicroFinance Inc., a non-profit company.

The new owner, Living Water MicroFinance Inc., will sell the equipment in question in Africa and will feel indebted to the previous owner, the equipment dealer or the farmer. This indebtedness will be 50% of the net selling price. This indebtedness will be resolved in our hypothetical example, by the purchase of additional new equipment from the dealer.  

If a farmer were to donate his or her used equipment there would be a large tax refund receipt and a cash credit from a third party, Coop Eau Vivante in Africa to a dealer of his or her choice or some other similar arrangement.

Second Hand Tractor versus the Plow

Not everyone wants or needs tractors with all the latest technology such as power take off and a GPS to keep those furrows straight.

A typical tractor runs 12,000 hours before it is not economically feasible to continue to repair it. It all depends on maintenance. We look for a paper trail for some of the maintenance and repair work. 

A well-maintained tractor works well for 20 to 30 years, and much longer if it is not used frequently. The service life of used tractors depends less on their age than on the quality of care they receive.

For example, a well maintained Massey-Ferguson MF390 manufactured in 1992 with 6650 hours on the clock is still valued at $13,000 in the United States. Because they are popular, it is fairly easy to obtain replacement parts, as needed. 

 There are hurdles with increased mechanization:

  • Capital cost
  • Loan interest
  • Operating costs
  • Availability of mechanics/skilled labor to operate machines
  • Spare parts availability
  • On-going maintenance – grease bearings,  check fluid levels etc.

 All our used tractors come with essential replacement parts. We don’t want to see 50 tractors in a field because they were supplied without essential working parts.

We can add small two wheel tractors to this list of appropriate technology.


A new compact tractor sells for around $10,000.


These types of plows have changed the role of women in farming. Historically, the plow had to be pulled by oxen, but women were not allowed to handle cattle. This meant that the women could no longer work in the fields and that men could take over that job.  It was the women’s work to tend the fields and primarily engage in home production and other activities that occur within the household. In strict Islamic countries, increased commercialization alienates women who are excluded from the markets and from driving tractors.

In Africa the women still grow the food crops and take the children with them.  So, plowing will leave little need for weeding the crop, which is usually the women’s task.


Our mission is to be the best in the world in micro hydro electric and water resource management: by evolving innovative damless hydroelectric and water transfer technology. We create Today’s Tall Tree Nurseries to support Micro Finance for women farmers and their families using the Carbon Tax Fund, a new form of foreign aid. We export Mechanization into Africa for more productive agriculture using a tractor and a plow.

There are many communities living in places where the land and climate is unforgiving. Growing food to feed families is becoming increasingly difficult, time-consuming and labor-intensive. When the rain comes, the water cannot penetrate the soil: the soil has a hard crust. We suggest higher productivity simply because tilling can be done very quickly  and save weeks of production: we analyze the Plow versus Tractor.


Agroforestry could help solve Climate Change.


New Trees are the only solution to soaking up Carbon Dioxide:

Tree Growth

A Full Scale Aquaponic Tree Nursery in Africa supported by:

  1. A Micro Hydro Electric System: no dams:
  2. An Irrigation System:
  3. A Rabbit and Fish Farm:
  4. An Agroforestry Intercrop System:
  5. The Charitable Arm:
  6. God’s Loveletters:
  7. Thunder of Justice:
  8. Deliverance Is:


Stage 1     Agricultural Mechanization of Africa                        
Stage 2   Today’s Tall Trees Nursery: Carbon Tax Fund 
Stage 3   Micro Finance & Landlord Cooperatives 
Stage 4   Irrigation in Remote Areas using kinetic energy from moving water.
Stage 5   Electricity Created in Remote Areas using moving water without the use of a dam.

near death experience



    1. Financing agricultural mechanization is a challenge.
      Small-holder farmers cannot afford to buy a tractor without financial assistance. To overcome the financial hurdle, the common advice is to organize farmers into cooperative or association and they can purchase the equipment as a group. This approach works, but it is only efficient in the short term.
      One of the major impediments to improving the agricultural productivity in Africa is the financing. Banks are reluctant to finance agricultural businesses because of their high risk and uncertainties. In the past, many African countries had implemented a government-led investment, which failed to achieve the expected results.
      In any financial model, the mechanization strategy should be private sector driven, and farmers should be given the option to make payments towards the purchase of their equipment during the harvest using the rental fees as a portion of their payments.
      In Tanzania, the Cooperative Reform and Modernisation Programme (CRMP) is a programme implemented by the Government to initiate a comprehensive transformation of Cooperatives to become organizations which are member-owned and controlled, competitive, viable, sustainable and with capability of fulfilling members’ economic and social needs.

      The Tanzania Budget includes:
      o Strengthen Farmers Field Schools (FFSs), Junior Farm Field and Life Schools, and Farmers Groups: Establish new farmers field schools in 8 agricultural zones
      o Facilitate equipment leasing for farmers and agro-processors
      o Establish and capitalize the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank: 500,000 million TShs: (US$23 million)
      o Build capacity of Agricultural Inputs Trust Fund in financing agricultural projects: 16,245 million TShs (US$7.5 million)
      o Promote cultivation of high-value crops
      • Including spices, cashew nuts, macadamia nuts, floriculture, pulses, fruits, vegetables, grapes and production of essential and edible oils
      • Intensify production of agro-industrial crops: Including cotton, tea, coffee, sesame, sisal, sugarcane, tobacco, coconut, sunflower, palms and oil seeds

      The Tanzania Budget also includes support for Sustainable Management of Forest Resources:
      • Provide technical and financial support to develop nurseries for agro forestry
      • Undertake detailed assessment of values and potentials of various indigenous trees and shrubs for agro-forest
      • Identify and promote nitrogen fixing indigenous agro forestry trees and shrubs for restoration of soil fertility and biomass to suit various agro ecological zones
      • Identify, develop and promote strategies for conservation and propagation of indigenous fruit trees to ensure availability for future generations

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *