An ox (plural oxen), also known as a bullock in Australia, New Zealand and India, is a bovine trained as a draft animal. Oxen are commonly castrated adult male cattle; castration makes the animals easier to control. Cows (adult females) or bulls (intact males) may also be used in some areas.
Oxen are used for plowing, for transport (pulling carts, hauling wagons and even riding), for threshing grain by trampling, and for powering machines that grind grain or supply irrigation among other purposes. Oxen may be also used to skid logs in forests, particularly in low-impact, select-cut logging.
Oxen are usually yoked in pairs. Light work such as carting household items on good roads might require just one pair, while for heavier work, further pairs would be added as necessary. A team used for a heavy load over difficult ground might exceed nine or ten pairs.
In Nepal, the economy is dominated by agriculture. In the late 1980s, it was the livelihood for more than 90 percent of the population, although only approximately 20 percent of the total land area was cultivable, it accounted for, on average, about 60 percent of the GDP and approximately 75 percent of exports. Since the formulation of the Fifth Five-Year Plan (1975–80), agriculture has been the highest priority because economic growth was dependent on both increasing the productivity of existing crops and diversifying the agricultural base for use as industrial inputs.
According to the World Bank, agriculture is the main source of food, income, and employment for the majority.
In trying to increase agricultural production and diversify the agricultural base, the government focused on irrigation, the use of fertilizers and insecticides, the introduction of new implements and new seeds of high-yield varieties, and the provision of credit. The lack of distribution of these inputs, as well as problems in obtaining supplies, however, inhibited progress. Although land reclamation and settlement were occurring in the Tarai Region, environmental degradation and ecological imbalance resulting from deforestation also prevented progress.
Although new agricultural technologies helped increase food production, there still was room for further growth. Past experience indicated bottlenecks, however, in using modern technology to achieve a healthy growth. The conflicting goals of producing cash crops both for food and for industrial inputs also were problematic.
The production of crops fluctuated widely as a result of these factors as well as weather conditions. Although agricultural production grew at an average annual rate of 2.4 percent from 1974 to 1989, it did not keep pace with population growth, which increased at an average annual rate of 2.6 percent over the same period. Further, the annual average growth rate of food grain production was only 1.2 percent during the same period.