Underproductivity of draught animal power
So little attention is paid to draught power that the harnesses and implements used today are almost the same as those that can be seen in ancient works of art. Enormous advances in the Third World development could be achieved if educated people would take an interest in improving the yokes, harnesses, implements and vehicles used with hundreds of millions of oxen, water buffalo and other animals. Their efficiency could be improved dramatically with little effort. For the two billion people below the poverty line it could be the biggest economic improvement made.
There are many limitations to animal power. Compared with motorized vehicles, animals move slowly and have limited range. Using animals is also more onerous, the drudgery is great. The greatest overall limitation is that animals require grains or vegetation as food, the cultivation of which may take away land from producing food crops for humans.
One of the key questions in planning agricultural development strategies relates to the use of animal power to augment or substitute for human or machine labour so as to raise productivity; but governments pay little attention to animal power, being embarrassed by its usage, seeing it as an indication of backwardness. As a result, animals are not often formally recognized as a source of energy. Draught animals are critical for a poor family's survival, being their main asset, security and power source. They provide more than just power; their dung supplies fuel for home heating and cooking and fertilizer for the soil. As draught animals are usually more readily accessible to developing country farmers than are machines, their utilization should be more widely and visibly encouraged.