A survey on land use and usage of cattle for draught in a semi-arid environment
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A diagnostic survey was conducted to examine land use and the extent to which cows were used for draught in January 1998 in Sanyati Communal Area. This communal area is situated in a semi-arid area of Mashonaland West Province of Zimbabwe. Data were collected from a tota1 sample of 100 households using the farmer participatory approach, rapid rural appraisal (RRA) methodology and a formal survey. The households were selected at random from five adjacent villages. Land use was categorised into arable, grazing or residential. Arable land holding per household averaged 5.4 hectares and ranged from 4 to 35 hectares. Seventy-nine percent of the farmers owned cattle and herd sizes ranged from one to 26. Every household possessed small ruminants and poultry. Land preparation was done mainly through use of cattle draught power. The main crops cultivated were maize and cotton, averaging 2.57 ±0.15ha and 1.77 :t0.12ha, respectively. Households possessing large cattle herd sizes cultivated largerhectarages compared with those with fewer cattle. The survey showed that there was an acute shortage of oxen and farmers were forced to use cows in the provision of draught power. Eighty-five percent of the cows were utilised for draught purposes to enable timely cultivation. In conclusion, the survey indicated that farmers in Sanyati cultivate maize and cotton and are dependent on cattle for provision of draught power. In addition, there is a shortage of sufficient draught oxen which has resulted in the use of cows for draught power.