By Ojo Precious, OAU
Agriculture is by far the single most important economic activity in Africa. It provides employment for about two-thirds of the continent’s working population. Agriculture also contributes an average of 30 to 60 percent of gross domestic product and about 30 percent of the value of exports for each country. Nonetheless, arable land and land under permanent crops occupy only about 6 percent of Africa’s total land area.
In addition, over most of Africa arable land generally has been allocated through a complex system of communal tenure and ownership rather than through individually acquired title. Peasant farmers have had rights to use relatively small and scattered holdings. This system of land ownership has tended to keep the intensity of agricultural production low. It has also inhibited the rate at which capital has been mobilized for modernizing production.
A number of countries have made efforts to raise productive levels. By selecting better varieties of seeds and planting materials, using tractors and other mechanized equipment, or increasing the use of mineral fertilizers and insecticides. Such measures, however, have been relatively limited, and they have raised concerns about their part in accelerating soil erosion and desertification. In areas of cash crop production, land has become private rather than community property, and cultivation is intensive.
Africa produces all the principal grains—corn, wheat, and rice—in that order of importance. Corn has the widest distribution, being grown in virtually all ecological zones. Millet and sorghum are also produced but principally in the savanna regions of the continent. Rice production and consumption have become increasingly important and are closely associated with areas of rapid development.
OAU Campus Ambassador for Edugist, Precious Ojo is a campus reporter and a content writer with vast interest in article writing and social media management. An aspiring journalist, she is passionate about service to humanity.