Agriculture in West Africa

The system of agrlculture practiced in West Africa could be Subsistence or commercial.

The Agricultural Systems practiced are:

Bush fallowing:

This is a system of farming in which a piece of land is cultivated within a period of time and left to rest (fallow) for some periods to enable it regain its fertility. This system of farming is done where:

a. Farmland is usually large.
b. Farmers are peasants i.e. small-scale farmers or subsistence farmers.
c. Crude implements are used for farming.
d. The population of farmers are low or small.
e. Only food crops are grown e.g. Cassava, Maize, Yam etc.

Merits of Bush Fallowing

1. The system of farming requires little capital to start.
2. It helps to maintain soil fertility.
3. It helps in nutrient recycling naturally.

Disadvantages of Bush Fallowing

1. It wastes land as it requires large area of land before it can be practiced.
2. It does not allow large scale farming.
3. Clearing of bush is expensive.

Shifting Cultivation:

This goes in line with bush fallowing. The only difference is in the length of time the soil is allowed to rest. Shifting cultivation is the practice whereby a farmer abandons a piece of land after cultivating it for a long period of time so that the land can regain its fertility.

Advantages of Shifting Cultivation

1. It maintains soil fertility by encouraging the re-growth of secondary bush or grassland.
2. It does not require the use of fertilizer when the land is later cultivated
3. It helps to control pests, diseases and erosion.

Disadvantages of Shifting Cultivation

1. Clearing of the bush is laborous and expensive.
2. It does not allow mechanisation.
3. It lends itself only to subsistence farming.
4. It leads to low productivity.
5. It cannot be practiced where the population density is high.

Pastoral farming

This is the system of farming where only grazing livestock are reared and kept.

Types/forms of pastoral farming

1. Nomadic herding (2) Lay farming (3) Ranching.

Advantages of pastoral farming

1. It helps to increase soil fertility.
2. It helps to control pests and diseases.
3. 1 helps to make maximum use of soil nutrients.

Disadvantages of pastoral farming

1. It may lead to soil exhaustion.
2. The farmer must have the technical knowhow on and livestock management.

Mixed Farming

This is a system of agriculture that is based on the rearing of animals and growing of crops on the same piece of land. Both benefit from each other as the animal faces serve as manure to the plants, whereas the rejects of the plants like yellowish cassava leaves and corn stalks serve as feeding for the animals.

Crop rotation (permanent cultivation):

Is a situation whereby a piece of land 5 constantly farmed or cultivated year after year.

Other systems of farming in West Africa are:

Livestock farming, Animal Husbandry Mechanized farming, Irrigation farming and Plantation Agriculture.

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