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Simple Machines Make Life Easier for Poor Farmers



From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report.

Farming without big machines is hard work. Planting and fertilizing alone can take days in the hot sun. Researchers are working to develop simple machines to make life easier for farmers in the developing world. They would also like to help the farmers save money. Jelle Van Loon is testing a model of a hand-held planting tool designed for small-scale farmers. It is a long metal hoe with just two flat teeth. With each stroke, one tooth plants a seed; the other adds a little fertilizer.

Jelle Van Loon is not a farmer. He is an engineer at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico. Mr. Van Loon is working to develop low cost tools for small scale farmers around the world. He hopes the tools will save them work, time and money. Usually he starts with a piece of equipment built somewhere else. An example is a hand-planter from Brazil.

The long, wooden V-shaped tool has a piece of metal on the bottom for breaking up the soil. Opening the arms of a part shaped like the letter V loads seed and fertilizer into the metal tip. This tool is faster and costs less than planting by hand. It uses less seed and fertilizer. It can also reduce by half the time required for planting and fertilizing a two-hectare farm. The planter still costs about $200 to make.

Jelle Van Loon thinks the final product will cost less. However, he says, more work is needed. His team is now testing their fourth version of the planter. Mr. Van Loon says the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center will publish plans for the tool on the Internet after the group has finished its work.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.

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