Evaluation of long- and short-handled hand hoes for land preparation, developed in a participatory manner among women vegetable farmers in The Gambia

Londa Vanderwal, Risto Rautiainen, Rex Kuye, Corinne Peek-Asa, Thomas Cook, Marizen Ramirez, Kennith Culp, Kelley Donham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: This study evaluated land preparation interventions (new short- and long-handled hoes), developed in a participatory manner with women vegetable farmers in West Africa, and identified indicators of long-term adoption of these interventions. Methods: Subjects (n = 48) engaged in timed trials, alternating between using an intervention tool and their traditional hand hoe to till specified plots of land. Heart rates were measured and subjects reported the relative ergonomic comfort and safeness of the tool after each trial. Follow-up interviews and focus groups were held one, two, and three months after the trials. Results: Compared to the traditional hoe, the new long-handled hoe required 22% less time (p = 0.01), while the new short hoe took 20% more time (p = 0.05) to till the standard plots in this study. Two months after the initial trials, 94% of subjects preferred the new hoes over the traditional hoe. Most subjects (75%) preferred the new short hoe over the new long hoe and thought it was faster (81%), despite measurements to the contrary. Conclusions: While the new long-handled hoe performed better in the timed trials in this study, most subjects preferred the new short-handled hoe. Subjects should be sensitized on the benefits of the long-handled hoe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)749-756
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this study was provided by the University of Iowa Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety (Grant number: T42OH008491-04 ) pilot grant and traineeship programs, the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center (Grant number: 1R49CE001167-03 ), a Sigma Delta Epsilon/Graduate Women in Science fellowship , a University of Iowa T. Anne Cleary International Dissertation Research Fellowship and a Stanley Graduate Award for International Research , and a University of Iowa Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students Research Grant . Dr. Rautiainen’s contribution was funded by the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (Grant number: 1U50OH009001-01 ). We wish to express our sincere gratitude to all these organizations for their financial support. We would also like to sincerely thank the staff of The Gambia College, the Trust Agency for Rural Development (TARUD, local NGO supervising the garden where the research was conducted), and the student research assistants from The Gambia College for all their support and assistance in this study.


  • Africa
  • Agriculture
  • Hand tools
  • Safety
  • Vegetable farming
  • Women


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