Policy Reforms and Sustainable Agricultural Intensification in Africa
Development Policy Review, 1999
Posted: 21 May 2011
Date Written: December 1, 1999
African farmers have traditionally pursued shifting cultivation in response to population growth and declining soil fertility. Rural population growth and displacement, due to urban expansion and the gazetting of parks and protected areas, have long encouraged the cultivation of new land by extending farming into forests, wetlands, hillsides, and pastures. However, in much of Africa the extensification path is rapidly becoming unsustainable or impractical as land grows more scarce in the face of population growth. That scarcity is increasing as the forest, rangeland, or wetland margin becomes exhausted, threatening biological diversity, and farmers are barred from using the remainder (for example, because of the gazetting of parks and protected areas), or soil degradation reduces crop yields and forage growth over time. Combined with increasing domestic demand for agricultural products fuelled by growth in population and incomes, there are strong pressures on farmers to intensify agriculture by using more labour and/or capital per hectare of land.
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