Indirect Enhancement – Village Grain Mills
One of the basic premises of this website is that the easiest means of assisting smallholder producers is to enhance the resources with which they have to work. The next question is: does this have to be done directly looking at mechanization, water pumps, and other such crop management tools, or can it be done indirectly? The question then becomes: what is the impact of simple diesel-powered maize and rice mills, like the one depicted in the photo, that are becoming increasingly popular even in remote sections of Africa, on crop management and production? Certainly, by reducing the time women spend on pounding maize, the mills are reducing the domestic drudgery long endured by rural African women. The question is what do women do with time saved? Does it allow them to spend longer days in the field enhancing the management of their crops resulting in either increased yields or increased quality? Or does it simply provide women with increased evening leisure so that they are more rested when they go to the field the next day? This would again allow them to improve their crop husbandry. It would make an interesting study for someone working in close contact to smallholder villages. It would also make a good Peace Corps Masters paper.
To the extent the increasingly availability of rice and maize mills in smallholder communities is reducing women’s drudgery and resulting in improved crop husbandry, the grain mills and those operating them become part of village service sector available to smallholders, in what has been described elsewhere in this website as a Symbiotic Association of producers and service providers that constitute smallholder communities.
Another means of indirect enhancement of the resources available to farmers would be improving the Domestic Water Supply. In addition to reducing sanitary diseases, it should also save labor and energy that would be available for other economic activities.
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