Are machetes still an important farm tool in today’s world?

Are machetes still an important farm tool in today’s world?

Before we dive into the relevance of machetes in today’s agricultural process, we will like to make you understand what a machete is, the need of a machete, the process it takes to manufacture this tool and its symbol or what it means to few community.

What is a machete?

It is a large cleaver-like chopping tool or a broad blade that is used traditionally for agricultural practices (such as cutting sugar canes or hacking / cutting through soft undergrowth in forest areas) or in combat/ warfare. It is a crude farm tool that varies in different shape, shape and height.

Need/ Uses of machetes

Since the origin of machete in Central America and the Caribbean; the machete has always been needed for two major things which are for agriculture and warfare.

Agriculture: In most tropical and subtropical regions and countries the machete is used to cut through rainforest undergrowth, cut trees with small width and tree branches. Also, the machete is used as a tool to perform household tasks such as cutting a piece of wood, splitting coconuts, cutting large foodstuffs into piece and even to kill farm animals like goats or sheep for meat.

Warfare: Machete has always been used in conflict over the years and in all part of the world. It has led to numerous deaths for example, it was the primary weapon used by the Interahamwe militias during the Rwandan genocide and it was also used during the independence wars in Cuba. It has also been used in country with situations like coup d’état, inter-tribal wars, gang-violence, terrorism, theft and so on. In addition, especially in West African households, it is also seen as a common side arm or defensive tool when met with threats or attacks.

Machete Making

Good machetes rely on the materials used and the shape. Machetes are made from soft metals and these metals are heated in a furnace to melt. When this metal becomes red hot, it is beaten and cut to shape and to different patterns/style. It then undergoes various processes to remove impurities and to test for quality. The use of soft metals enables regular sharpening of the machete blades when it becomes blunt. Machete consists of 2 parts; the handle (made from wood or plastic) and a blade that extends typically from 50 to 60 centimeters in length. The blades are sharpened on one side and are up to 3 millimeter thick. The handle makes carrying and lifting of the machete easy.

Community Symbol

In some region of the world the machete is viewed as a symbol of strength, while in some other areas, as an artifact for ceremonies. For example, in Angola, the machete is seen on their flag and it represents peasantry, agricultural production and their armed struggle over the years. While, in southern Brazil, the machete is used in a dance called dança dos facões (machetes' dance), in which the dancers, who are usually men, bang their machetes against various surfaces while dancing, simulating a battle.

Are machetes still an important farm tool in today’s world?

This is similar to asking if the crude farm tools are relevant in today’s world. From the onset to about 50 to 80 years ago, farming was done using crude farming tools like machete, hoes, rakes, diggers, spades etc, and it is still in used in some underdeveloped countries today. These kinds of farm tools are common and are cheap to afford. So far, the world has changed and nowadays advancement in technology has helped improve output in different areas / sectors of the world’s economy and agriculture is no different. The inclusiveness of these technology and machines in agriculture has helped improve productivity, protect crops effectively by lessen attack of pests, and overall has helped improve the lifestyle, health and lifespan of farmers by reducing stress and working hours. With all these benefits, not farmers today are using these tools in their farms and the reason is because it is expensive. Examples of these modernize technology include, tractors, combine harvesters, cultivators, sprayers (both mechanized and knapsack), agrochemicals, weed trimmers, disc hallow, etc.

It is believed that, these modernized farming tools have eradicated the use of traditional farm tools, but this is false. Every moment on the farm, farmers who are able to afford these modernized farm implements see the limits to what they can do and most of these limits are solved by traditional tools. For example, when clearing a farmland using the tractor and a tree branch or a log is blocking the pathway, the machete been a versatile tool is used to cut these branches or log to pieces to create a clear pathway. There are still numerous need for traditional farm tools because it performs the simply task easily, whereas you can say the modernized farming tools performs the most strenuous and tedious task easily and faster.

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