The increase in fuel prices and ongoing financial crisis has led some farmers in the north of Portugal to go back to the regular use of animal traction in the fields.
“We all know that fuel is becoming more expensive. Once trained, donkeys are a good help in the fields, which can save money on fuel,” Artur Gomes, a farmer from the municipality of Miranda do Douro in northern Portugal told Lusa News Agency earlier this month.
Animals such as donkeys carry out a number of tasks in agriculture, such as ploughing, pulling carts, transporting people and tools to the fields, among other activities, leading their owners to say “it is becoming more rewarding to work with them” as they are “docile and easy to manage.”
“I have two female donkeys of the Mirandesa breed that are used to working in the fields. These animals help with ploughing and that is reflected in less expenditure on fuel for the tractor,” added Mr. Gomes.
Fellow farmer Iria Gomes owns four Mirandesa donkeys in the small village of Paradela in northern Portugal and uses them to help her plough between the vines, dig up potatoes and plant cabbages. Aside from helping with these tasks, the animals are also company for her in the fields.
“Sometimes these animals can get to where a tractor could not, and it is always cheaper than using motorised equipment,” she said.
For farmer Amânsio Fernandes from Vimiosos, the use of animals is nothing new as he has been using a horse to transport him between his properties for the past three decades.
The use of animals for farming is also recommended for young farmers to keep costs down by the Association for the Study and Protection of Donkeys (AEPGA).
“Those who have a donkey on their farms are saved from added costs with agricultural machinery and fuels,” said AEPGA spokesman Miguel Nóvoa.