Two-wheel tractors displace oxen in northern Makwanpur after 2015 quakeA large number of cattle was buried under debris during the disaster.
Before the 2015 quake, most farmers in northern Makwanpur relied on oxen to plough their fields to grow fruits and vegetables. But, these days, the animals have been replaced by two-wheel tractors (also known as ‘hand tractors’ or ‘walking tractors).
As the devastating earthquake razed hundreds of sheds in the area, many oxen died trapped in the debris. Farmers had no option but to switch to tractors. That the operating cost of the machines is lower than that of cattle also sped up the transition.
There’s a lack of people who know how to plough with oxen, locals say. “Even farmers these days don’t know how to plough with oxen,” said Sanobhai Karki, the headmaster of a local secondary school in Thaha Municipality.
Sudarshan Bista, another resident of Thaha, also shares a similar experience. “Many oxen died in the 2015 quake. Since then, it’s hard to find oxen and people who can plough using them in the villages,” he said. “Nowadays, people use tractors.”
“It is [using tractors] easier and faster than using a pair of oxen,” said Bista, adding that a tractor can plough a field in a single day while the oxen take two to three days for the same.
It also became easier for the farmers to buy tractors after two government projects started distributing the machines at a discounted price. The then Agriculture Development Office distributed more than 100 units to farmers under a grant after the quake. Similarly, the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project Implementation Unit distributed 105 tractors to farmers in the last three years.
“We haven’t been able to meet the demand for hand tractors,” said Maheshwor Lamichhane, an official at the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project Implementation Unit.
Resham Bahadur Thing, a farmer from Indrasarobar Rural Municipality, sold a pair of oxen to a farmer in Chhaimale in Kathmandu. “I then bought a hand tractor from the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project Implementation Unit for 50 percent of the price,” he said.