The donkey plough
The plough is made lighter than many ploughs in other part of the world due to the arid
condition’s and the fact that it is being pulled by one donkey only or sometimes by a camel.
The new design is based on the more traditional design but using an all-metal structure. The
metal comes from scrap, which is usually obtained from old vehicles.
The Azagarfa Blacksmiths Society was part of the Practical Action project concerned with
participatory technology development in the design of a donkey-drawn plough using locally
available skills and appropriate materials. 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 to produce a hardwearing surface.
After initial trials in the project area (Kebkabiya), this technology was scaled up and
disseminated to other areas in North Darfur including Azagarfa Village,
The Azagarfa Blacksmiths Society was
registered in 1998 and Practical Action
(then ITDG) organised the training of its
members by other blacksmiths from
Kassara who were already skilled in the
Members have on to manufacture and sell
the ploughs to individual farmers and
farmer societies in the area.
Figure 4: hammering one of the component
parts of the plough. Photo: Practical Action
The conditions in which the ploughs are
manufactured are fairly basic and the
tools available to the blacksmiths are
The components of the plough consist of
the minimal amount of material as steel is
Practical Action has been involved the
design of the harness in Sudan where
improved harnesses have been introduced
for ploughing and for water carrying.
Practical Action publishing has also
produced a book on simple harnesses.
Figure 5: The plough before assembly Photo:
Practical Action Sudan.
As part of the training, new harnesses were demonstrated. The
wider and softer strapping will spread the load and reduce rubbing
thus preventing the animal from developing sores.
The donkey plough demonstrates the relationship between the
different aspects of Practical Action’s work from the adaptation of
a traditional technology to the development of an intermediate
technology and brings together farming, metalworking and the
production of improved harnesses.
Figure 6: Assembly of the
plough. Photo: Practical