Definition of agriculture
It is the cultivation of crops. The modern definition of agriculture includes animal husbandry, fish farming and bee-keeping.
The beginning of Agriculture
The domestication of plants and animals began over 10,000 years ago during the Neolithic period
Why man domesticated plants and animals
- The increase of human population needed regular food supply -natural environment could no longer provide sufficient food.
- Climatic changes-increased drought, threatened plant life and animal life making natural food scarce.
- Competition for existing food in the natural resulted in inadequate wild food/over hunting of animals.
- Hunting and gathering was increasingly becoming tiresome.
- Calamities such as forest fires or floods sometimes destroyed vegetation or drove wild animals away.
- Development of settled life. Man had to stop a life of movement in search of food and water.
- Development of tools (microliths) e.g. sickles wooden plough, etc.
- Availability of varieties of indigenous crops e.g. wheat and barley.
There are two theories that explain how agriculture started;
- The Independent theory. Agriculture developed independently in different parts of the world especially along river valleys.
- One Place Theory/Diffusion Theory-Crop growing and animal keeping developed among people of south East Asia. Then the idea spread to the rest of the world; Middle East, India, Central America, China, Southeast Asia 8,000 BC 7,000 BC 6,500 BC 6,000 BC 5,000 BC
The transformation from hunting and gathering to growing of food crops was a gradual development. The first crops were grown by man in areas where they existed naturally. Crop growing first developed in the Fertile Crescent which is in the Middle East.
- Neolithic women noticed new grain plants grew when they accidentally spilled grain seeds. They tried scattering seeds on purpose – it worked!
- Animals often find plants in places with water / good soil - Hunters saw pattern
- People stayed at sites, animals became tamer
- People started weeding / irrigating so plants would grow better
- Started saving seeds of better plants to plant
- One season, nomads liked a site so much they stuck around
- Stayed so long they harvested a crop and then saw it grow to harvest stage again
- Groups learned to grow a crop from seed to harvest and then move on
- Since men did the hunting and females were responsible for the food gathering, women learned how to plant seeds, as well as process and prepare the food.
The above facts point out that the beginning of crop farming was accidental and mainly through trial and error. Earliest crops to be domesticated were barley, wheat, sorghum, millet, rice, maize, yams, cassava, potatoes, bananas and grapes. Since they grew in different environments, there were many centres of agricultural revolution. For example;
- Middle East.
- Indus valley in India.
- Nile valley
- The yellow river valley in china
- The Danube Valley in Europe.
Originally grown in south-west Asia. Initial type was brittle wheat-then replaced by a non-brittle type in 7500BC called emmer.
Wheat then spread Mesopotamian plains by 6000 BC to Egypt by 3000BC, then to Mediterranean region, central Asia, India and southern Europe.
The first cereal to be domesticated, Initially grew wildly at Mureybat on the Euphrates in Syria between 7000 - 6000 BC Another evidence of growth found at Ali kosh (Iran) and Jericho (Jordan) Then spread to Egypt at Fayum in 4500 BC. Then spread to India and china by about 2000 BC.
SORGHUM AND MILLET
Originated from Africa at Hoggat in southern Algeria as early as 6000 BC. Spread to West Africa to around Sudan area between Nile and Chad, by 1500 BC. Finger millet originated in East Africa. Later the two spread to Asia and China.
Originated in Asia where currently is a stable food- in Thailand at about 3500 BC. Then spread to India, Europe and Japan. The African variety was grown along the upper Niger around 1500 BC
Origin- Central America at about 5000 BC at Tehuacan in Mexico. In Africa, was introduced by the Portuguese in 15th century.
The first root and tuber crop to be domesticated- 9000 BC in south East Asia. The African variety, the white guinea yam was grown in Ivory Coast.
DOMESTICATION OF ANIMALS
The Dog was the first animal to be domesticated. The next animals were the sheep, Goats, cattle and camels. Animal domestication Began through establishment of ties between man and animals during hunting or when fetching water.
Assisted humans in hunting, driving away dangerous animals and herding livestock
The Goat was first domesticated in south west Asia in 5000 BC. Evidence of this is found at Tell Abu Hureyra, Tepe Ali Kosh, and Deh Luren Khuzestan in south -west Iran. Also in Iraq, upper Tigris valley, turkey and south Jordan. Goat domestication was in Egypt in 5000 BC
Sheep was domesticated after the dog. Fossil evidence of sheep keeping has been found at Zawi Chemi Shanid in Iraq and dating to about 9000 BC. Sheep were also kept in Syria, Egypt and Saharan region then to West Africa. Sheep was also kept in Indus valley and yellow river valleys.
Cattle was first domesticated in south-west Asia as early as 5800BC in turkey and then in Iran and Iraq. It then spread to Ethiopia and North Africa from Asia. The short-horned cattle originated in Mesopotamia then spread to Africa and Europe.
Though camels are associated with North Africa today, the original home has been traced to North America from where they spread to South America and Asia. The Asian and S. American species became the ancestors of the Alpaca and Illama.Two types of camels exist today
- the one-humped (found in Middle East, northern china and Africa), and the two-humped camel (found in central Asia.)
Camels were domesticated about 3000 BC to 2500 BC
Importance of the domestication of animals
- Some of them like cattle, sheep and goats provided man with regular food i.e. Milk, meat.
- Animal Hides or skin were used as clothing and beddings
- The horns were used for communication.
- Hooves and bones of animals were used as containers and as drinking vessels.
- Some of the domesticated animals like the camel, donkey and horses were used for transport.
- Domestic animals like the oxen and the donkey were used to plough land for farming.
- The dog protected man against dangerous animals.
- Some of the domesticated animals produced manure which greatly improved agricultural produce.
EARLY AGRICULTURE IN MESOPOTAMIA
Mesopotamia was the land between the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates and lay in the present day Iraq. It was one of the centres of early civilization as early as 3000 BC. Food production in this region began as early as 8000 BC.
Reasons why early agriculture developed in Mesopotamia
- Availability of indigenous crops and animals in the region e.g. Wheat, barley, dates and goats, sheep and cattle.
- Existence of fertile land along river valleys of Tigris and Euphrates-consisting of deposited silt.
- Availability of water from rivers Tigris and Euphrates which was used for irrigation. Heavy rains experienced in the Zaggroes Mountains contributed to floods on the river valleys.
- Invention of farming tools e.g. Hoes, ploughs, sickles and seed drill which promoted agricultural activities.
- Existence of transport system in form of donkeys, canoes, river transport etc; which was instrumental in transportation of inputs and outputs.
- Political instability that enabled people to practice agriculture.
The Sumerians are credited as the first people to use irrigation in growing crops. When the river water overflowed the banks during flooding, the Sumerians had the skill of controlling it through canals into the dry lands. (Canal or bucket irrigation). They also used farm implements to improve crop growing. For example the use of ox-drawn ploughs and seed drills pulled by oxen to replace stone hoes. Most of the people during the summer civilization earned their livelihood as farmers, craftsmen, fishermen and cattle breeders.
Most of the land was in form of large estates owned by the rulers or the wealthy classes. The peasants were given small plots along with seeds, farm implements and animals in exchange for labour. The Crops grown included barley, wheat, vines, date, palms, grapes, olives, onions, figs, melons and cucumbers. Milk animals kept included goats and cow. Also ducks, pigs, geese and horses were kept.
Impact of early agriculture in Mesopotamia
- It led to settled life as people now needed to concentrate on farming.
- Food production increased.
- There was an increase in population along the river valleys due to plenty and regular food supply.
- There was emergence of city-states and urban centres. For example Ur, Uruk, Eridu, Nippur, Kish and Babylon.
- Surplus agricultural production led to development of trade between communities.
- There was increased specialization as all could not engage in farming. Some became craftsmen.
- Agriculture influenced writing and arithmetic. Management of estates required knowledge in accounts. The form of writing that was developed was known as cuneiform involving the use of stone tablets.
- The invention of the wheel by around 3000 BC. it was used in carts to transport farm produce, for making war chariots to transport soldiers and also in pottery (the potter’s wheel)
- The plough was also invented. The first ox-plough consisted of simply a tree trunk with one small branch protruding upwards with the other one upwards. The invention meant that only a few people were needed to cultivate land.
- There was the development of science and mathematics with the development of the first formulas for measuring time, distance and area. There was also development in the field of Astronomy.
- Religious practices also developed with the connection of most of the gods to agriculture in one way or another. For example, Ninurta was a god of floods.
- Development of law. A code of laws was compiled as a means of minimizing conflict in society- the Hammurabi’s code.
EARLY AGRICULTURE IN EGYPT
As early as 7000 BC, people had already settled in the Nile valley. By around 5000 BC, the Egyptians had gradually adopted agriculture, departing from a hunter-gatherer society.
Reasons that enhanced development of early Agriculture in Egypt
- Availability of Water for irrigation and for domestic use from river Nile.
- Existence of fertile silt deposits and mud originating from the flooding of the Nile between July and October annually, which provided fertile soil for crop farming.
- Another advantage was that Egypt had a suitable warm climate for crop growing and ripening.
- The Use of shadoof Irrigation technology ensured production of food during drought seasons
- Presence of indigenous crops and animals from which domestication was made. Wheat and barley had already become indigenous to Egypt as were animals like sheep and goats.
- Foreign influence from South West Asia where farming was first practiced. The proximity of Egypt to Mesopotamia, the first centre of agricultural development ensured that she borrowed heavily from there.
- The Natural protection of the region from foreign attacks, since the Nile valley was protected by the Libyan Desert to the West, the Nubian Desert and Nile cataracts to the South and the Nile coast delta on the North.
- Political stability.
- High population created need for more food and provided farm labour.
- Availability of slave labour made crop farming a success.
- The invention and use of implements that included wooden sticks, knives and wooden hoes enabled the farmers to increase their yields.
- The existence of writing in Egypt helped the Egyptians to keep accurate records of seasons and volume of food.
The shadoof irrigation
This was the method of irrigation used in Egypt during the drought season when the river was not flooding. A shadoof is a wooden device for lifting water from a river into the canals. It consisted of a long pole swinging up and down between two supporting wooden posts One end has a weight hanging on the pole while the other end has a skin bucket. The bucket is pulled down and dipped into the water by a person.
It is caused to rise by the weight, once water has been filled. The other person empties the water into the canal to be drained into the fields. The Egyptians used farm implements like sticks, knives, axes, sickles and hoes. Among the crops planted in Egypt included wheat, barley, fruits, flax, beans, vegetables, cucumbers, onions, lentils, dates, figs and grapes. They used the broadcasting method. Shifting cultivation was also practiced before human population increased.
They kept animals like sheep, goat, pigs, donkey, cattle and poultry.
The state directed production. It controlled distribution of harvests as well as handicrafts. Government owned huge granaries and godowns which were used to store food. The king was regarded as the guardian who presided over food supply for all. The master of largesse was responsible for all the livestock in the country. In the year when agricultural production was poor, the head of the exchequer would take care of the distribution of seeds and livestock.
Effects of early agriculture in Egypt
- Due to improved farming, there was increased food production thus ensuring regular food supplies.
- There was Growth in population as food supply increased and became regular.
- Agriculture led to permanent settlement of people. As a result, their living standards improved dramatically as they reaped from farming.
- Agriculture promoted trade among the Egyptians. It led to production of surplus food that in turn was used to increase trading activities.
- Agriculture Led to rise of urban centres or towns in Egypt such as Memphis’s akhetan, Aswan and Thebes along the Nile valley.
- Agriculture enabled some society members to specialize in other activities since a few could now produce enough food for all. Some engaged in hand crafts, geometry etc.
- Agriculture Led to emergence of government and related governing laws.
- Like the case of Mesopotamia, it led to the discovery of arithmetic, geometry, writing and calendar. These were used by the priests to keep records and make accurate prediction of annual foods. The Egyptian calendar is believed to be the earliest calendar in the world.
- It promoted social stratification or classes in Egyptian society.
Effects of early agriculture
Summarize from the effects in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
THE AGRARIAN REVOLUTION IN BRITAIN
The agrarian revolution refers to rapid changes and improvements in the field of agriculture.
Between 1750 and 1850 European countries underwent changes in agriculture.
The changes were marked by
- A new system of land ownership
- Use of machines and new farming methods.
The revolution took place first in Britain.
CHARACTERISTICS OF AGRICULTURE IN BRITAIN BEFORE THE AGRARIAN REVOLUTION
- Feudalism was practiced.
What is Feudalism?
“Loosely organized system of government in which local lords governed their own lands but owed military service and other support to a greater lord (nobility)”. The feudal kings had plenty of land; but they could not control it all. So they gave land to lords (nobility) in exchange for protection, loyalty. Nobility then gave Part of their land to the serfs (peasants) who would work on it and give part of their crops to the local (land) lord, for letting them farm the land.
- Farmers practiced open-field system.
In this system land was divided into three portions;
- Portion one- growing corn and wheat
- Portion two- for beans, barley and oats
- Portion three- left fallow to regain fertility.
Such a system did not allow effective farming since land was not fully utilized. It also discouraged livestock farming since it allowed easy spread of livestock diseases. There was uncontrolled breeding in livestock instead of selective breeding since livestock grazed together. Fallow land and existence of Cattle and footpaths that crisscrossed the farms wasted a lot of land.
- Stripping as a method of farming was used. The existence of strips meant that Land portions were small and discouraged the use of machines.
- Use of simple tools and implements that included sticks, hoes and later ploughs. Cultivation was therefore on small scale with crop rotation being used as a method of improving fertility. It was however not effective.
- Use of broadcasting method. Broadcasting method of planting led to wastage of seeds as it would be eaten by birds and rodents.
- Intercropping was practiced. The growing of two or more crops on the same piece of land.
- Mixed farming. Livestock was allowed to graze on fallow land
- Mono-cropping-planting the same type of crop year after on the same piece of land. NB; this was an inefficient system leading to low yields
CHANGES THAT MARKED THE AGRARIAN REVOLUTION IN BRITAIN
- Fallows were abolished and available lands used effectively. This was influenced by population that occasioned demand for more food. The farmers could no longer afford to leave land to regain fertility.
- Application of new methods of farming. Introduction and use of fertilizers in farms Lord Viscount Townsend discovered that clover added nitrogen to the soil and turnips could survive in winter and be used to feed cattle. Townsend introduced a new four- course crop rotation called the Norfolk system consisting of barley, clover, turnips and wheat on same plot for a four-year period. In 1843, John Bennet Lawes discovered the use of fertilizers and opened a superphosphate factory in London.
- Use of farm machineries like the horse drawn drilling machine invented by Jethro Tull in 1701 which replaced the broadcasting method. Iron hoes were used instead of sticks, to prepare the ground. In 1925, the wooden plough was replaced with an iron plough. Patrick Bell’s invention of the mechanical reaper replaced the sickle in harvesting corn. Andrew Meikles invented a mechanical thresher in 1876 which could cut and bind corn at the same time. The use of machines changed agriculture from a small scale to a large-scale business.
- Intercropping to retain land fertility. E.g. of maize and beans. This practice enabled farmers to realize more yields.
- Application of scientific principles to farming. For example, Selective breeding of livestock invented by Robert Bakewell (1725-1795). He was able to develop the short horn, Devon, the Hereford, Aberdeen Angus and Ayrshire. He also improved sheep breeds such as the Leicester, Shropshire, Suffolk and the oxford. Pig varieties- the Yorkshire, Berkshire and Tamworth breeds
- Fencing of farms/land enclosure system; the introduction of land enclosures put to an end to strip farming. This was a demand of the rich landlords that land should be enclosed by fencing. The enclosure act enabled rich people to acquire more land. As a result more land was put under production and more land could be ploughed by one farmer
Positive effects of the land enclosure system introduced in Britain
- It created large farms which allowed use of horse drill and crop -rotation.
- The farms were easily managed and Farmers could specialize in crop or animal production.
- Farmers could use their title deeds to borrow money from financial firms for the improvement of their farms.
Effects of the land enclosure movement on the peasant farmers in Britain
- The creation of large farms led to landlessness among the peasant farmers,
- Peasant farmers sold off their land to the rich farmers because they could not afford to cultivate the land.
- The land enclosure movement led to displacement of peasant farmers from their land and hence they migrated to towns/ caused rural -urban migration.
- The rural-urban migration of peasant farmers led to overcrowding in urban centres/ congestion in urban centres.
- The land enclosure movement caused emigrations of the peasants to other countries such as USA, Canada, Australia, new Zealand and south Africa
- The poor farmers were exploited, as they had to sell their labour to farmers and to the factories / exploitation of the poor peasant’s labour force.
- The royal agricultural society. It was established in 1838. Through the journals of the society, new ideas and techniques of farming were publicized all over the country. As a result, many farmers began to adopt the modern methods of farming.
CAUSES OF AGRARIAN REVOLUTION IN BRITAIN
- Land consolidation; the introduction of land enclosures which put to an end to strip farming. As a result more land was under production and more land could be ploughed by one farmer.
- Development of new methods of livestock breeding; more scientific methods of breeding livestock were developed. They involved selective breeding in which animals with suitable characteristics were maintained in the herds.
- Development of new tools for farming which helped to increase agricultural productivity .e.g. use of seed drill, Rotterdam plough, threshing machine and tractors.
- Development of new methods of maintaining soil fertility e.g. the new crop rotation system allowed the continued use of land without exhausting its fertility. Chemical fertilizers were also produced.
- Development of agricultural research in universities and research institutes assisted in improvement of soils and crop yields. Newspapers and agricultural journals helped to spread the results of this research to farmers.
- Impact of industrial revolution which provided the agricultural sector with inputs and market.
- Population increase led to high demand for food.
EFFECTS OF THE AGRARIAN REVOLUTION IN BRITAIN
- Food security for the population of Britain due to improved farming methods.
- There was Growth of population in Britain due to food security lowered mortality rates and increased life expectancy.
- There was Growth of capital/plantation farming to replace subsistence farming. Due to the enclosure act, ownership of large farms was encouraged and subsequently mechanization/plantations were set up.
- Poor farmers who could not afford fencing lost their land. Capital farming therefore led to emergence of landless peasants as large tracts of land were consolidated in enclosures. The poor peasants were compelled to migrate to urban areas where they were subjected to poor living conditions.
- Trade expanded locally and internationally. When farming was commercialized, Britain expanded trade thus boosting her economy.
- Growth of a working class. The landless peasants sought wage employment on farms or in towns in the emerging new industries. Thus a class of workers began to emerge.
- Transport systems like roads and railways improved. They were used to transport agricultural products to the market and raw materials to industries.
- Industries benefited from agricultural raw materials/ develop ment of industries. A number of machines produced by industries were also used in agriculture to boost production.
- Emigration of British national to other parts of the world. Some of the landless peasants migrated to USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
- Intensification of scientific research by the royal agricultural society to carter for the expanding agricultural sector.
THE SPREAD OF AGRARIAN REVOLUTION
From Britain the revolution spread to other parts of Europe and Americas and then the rest of the world. Ideas like crop rotation, use of machines, selective breeding of livestock and use of fertilizers spread into continental Europe from Britain. The governments encouraged agricultural science and research.
The work of Louis Pasteur (1890-1960) a Frenchman discovered that disease are caused by bacteria and sterilization of food such as milk through boiling keeps it bacteria-free for long time
THE AGRARIAN REVOLUTION IN THE USA
The Americas was the origin of many crops in the world the American Indians were subsistence farmers growing crops like yams, potatoes, maize (corn), cocoa, tomatoes, cotton, tobacco, beans and cassava. Political and religious differences in Europe in the 17 th c forced many Europeans to settle in America as was also the enclosure system in Britain. Craftsmen and labouerers also moved in search of better life. The immigrant settlers came with horses, sheep, cattle, pigs, fowls, seeds and plants from Europe. Some of them participated in improving the machines that were already in use in Europe.
- 1837- John Deere a young blacksmith from Illinois invented a steel plough
- 1837- Cyrus McCormick established a factory in Chicago to produce reapers
- 1837- Daniel Massey produced a similar machine in Canada.
- 1792- Elly Whitney invented the cotton gin and cotton picker
American scientists also developed the refrigerator. For example, John Perkins (1766-1849) an American inventor patented the first prototype refrigerator in England in 1834. The first American patent for a refrigerator was awarded to John Gorrie (1803-1855) in 1851.1859- Ferdinand Carre, a Frenchman invented the absorption system in a refrigerator. This was a major milestone in preservation of meat and other foods in America. Several agricultural zones emerged in America due to differences in soil fertility and climate:
- North-Eastern parts- Ranching and dairying
- The south- cotton zone.
- Central region-maize.
- North-west wheat
There was large scale mechanized agriculture especially after the abolition of slave trade. Most cash crops were grown to provide raw materials to European industries. Tobacco was grown in Virginia and Maryland. Rice and indigo were grown in Georgia and South Carolina. Cattle’s rearing was done in Texas.Transport development also enhanced agricultural development. For example, water transport using the great lakes, railway and road transport. Alexander graham bell invented the telegraph to enhance communication.
USA also invested in the field of science and research which boosted agriculture with better hybrid seeds and different strains of livestock.
FACTORS THAT FACILITATED THE DEVELOPMENT OF AGRICULTURE IN AMERICA BEFORE 1800
- The enclosure system in Britain led to the Settlement of enterprising European emigrants who wished to make a living through agriculture/Determination of European immigrants to succeed as farmers as there was no other source of livelihood. European immigration into the region also led to population increase and demand for more food. The immigrants also introduced new crops and new methods of farming leading to agricultural development
- Scientific research made it possible to improve strains of crops to resist diseases, to develop superior animal breeds and to develop new food crops e.g. Soya beans into artificial meat, etc.
- Mechanization; there was extensive use of machines to improve production e.g. steel plough, use of reapers, cotton gin etc.
- The presence of cheap means of transport e.g. Erie Canal, roads, railway, etc speeded up the transportation of goods and raw materials.
- The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 led to increased cotton acreage.
- Environmental influence on the farmers through experience leading to agricultural zoning e.g. maize in the centre, wheat in the south and beef rearing in the west/Presence of suitable soils for different types of crops such as tobacco, cotton and wheat.
- Government recognition of individual land ownership (the Homestead Act 1760) encouraged settlers to farm.
EFFECTS OF THE AGRARIAN REVOLUTION IN USA
Fuelled by peasants who emigrated after they were driven out of Europe by the land enclosure movement, USA became the world’s leading producer of agricultural products.
The effects of the revolution were as follows:
- It led to diversification of agriculture through the introduction of new farm animals and crops.
- The new inventions in farm machinery enabled American farmers to bring more land under cultivation. For example the steel plough invented by John Deere and reaping machine by Cyrus McCormick.
- Food production especially of wheat and maize, increased due to the use of new farming methods like use of fertilizers and hybrid seeds.
- The agrarian revolution led to expansion of agricultural related industries.
- Mechanization of agriculture replaced slaves and other labourers at the farms. Many people went to search for employment in urban areas.
- The expansion of food production led to increase in trade between USA and Western Europe thus boosting USA economy.
- The transport system was improved to enable transportation of farm inputs to farms and agricultural produce to market.
- The revolution contributed to the enhancement of research and scientific inventions especially on the field of agriculture.
FOOD SITUATION IN AFRICA AND THE REST OF THE THIRD WORLD
“Third world” refers to the less developed countries in Africa, Asia and South America. Many of these third world countries have food shortages and even continue to have weak economies upto date.
Causes to food shortage in Africa
- Rapid population growth which has put a lot of pressure on the available food resources leading to shortages
- Poor land use and agricultural practices. Many farmers still depend on traditional farming methods, for example, not applying fertilizers, pesticides or mechanization, thus producing low yields.
- Some developing countries experience adverse weather conditions such as floods and long periods of drought. Since these countries practice rain-fed agriculture, food production has been affected
- Overemphasis on cash crops at the expense of food crops has contributed to low food production. In Kenya for example, large farms concentrate on growth of flowers, tea and coffee with food crop farming being largely for subsistence.
- Rural-urban migration , especially among the young people has deprived the rural areas of the badly needed labour force for food production
- Lack of adequate capital for agricultural development. Low income/poverty. The farmers lack enough funds to purchase farm inputs.
- Political instability in some African countries undermines food production. For example in Ethiopia, Sudan, DRC, Burundi and Rwanda. This has prevented people from concentrating on food production.
- Decline in growing drought resistant crops. Crops like cassava and millet have been abandoned due to attitude thus causing artificial shortage of specific food.
- Poor and inadequate storage facilities have led to food wastage. In Kenya by 2001, the country was losing up to nine million bags of grain per year as a result of poor storage methods.
- Poor transport network leads to uneven distribution of food. It also discourages farmers from producing more.
- Over reliance on food aid and forms of aid has created a dependence attitude in many African countries. Some communities have become complacent about looking for a permanent solution to their food problems.
- Poor economic planning on the part of the government with many countries putting a lot of emphasis on other development projects at the expense of agricultural and food production.
- Poor land tenure systems resulting in low productivity. For example where a few European farmers own large tracts of land but only exploiting a small portion of the expansive farms.
- The HIV/AIDS pandemic contributed to food shortages since the scourge leads to death of many of the work force in their prime years.
Effects of food shortages
- Loss of life. Many people have lost their lives. For example the Ethiopian famine in 1984 led to the deaths of thousands of people.
- Increased suffering among millions of people in Africa due to deficiency diseases like kwashiorkor and marasmus.
- Food shortage has created social problems in societies. For example cattle raids by the karamojong and Maasai during the periods of famine. Even other anti-social problems like stealing food in rural areas can be attributed to inadequate food supply.
- Sometimes famine and drought has forced people to flee their home countries thus causing refugee problems in the receiving countries.
- Lack of food hampers efforts towards economic development. It Affects education since famine stricken children cannot concentrate on learning. There is Use of scarce foreign exchange to import food.
- It has created dependence on food aid from rich countries. Even some of the genetically created foods are tested in third world countries. Such foods have unknown side-effects.
- It has adversely affected agricultural-based industries.e.g sugar industries.-inevitably thisleads to unemployment.
- It has led to Political instability as people lose confidence in the governments that cannot feed them.
Solutions to food shortage in Africa
- Land reclamation thus increasing land under agriculture. This may increase food production.
- Re-formulation of agricultural policies so that there is a shift from a concentration on cash crops to paying more attention on food crops.
- Provision of extension services to farmers e.g. information on storage, preservation of farm produce and other forms of advice.
- Revision of the land tenure system- redistribution of land / land reforms as case is in china.
- Development of agro-based industries which will become market to agricultural raw materials like coffee, tea, etc.
- Creation of political stability to enable mobilization of people to self-sufficiency in food production.
- Relentless campaign against killer disease such as AIDS.
- Infrastructural development/ in transport, communication, storage and marketing.
- Environmental conservation measures which may help curb drought spread and ensure sufficient rains./ protection of catchments areas
- Family planning so that people only have children they can be able to feed, cloth and shelter.
- Demand for food to feed the growing population.
STEPS KENYA HAS TAKEN TO SOLVE FOOD SHORTAGES
- Extensive research has been carried out in research institutions such as the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) producing hybrid maize such as Katumani that grows in drier areas. ICIPE and ILRI researches in pests and disease that affect both livestock and crops in the country.
- Introduction of genetically engineered crops and animal s into the agricultural sector. These crops, developed mainly at JKUAT and KARI are resistant to diseases and pests.
- Agricultural training institutions have been established to train experts such as agricultural officers, veterinary doctors and horticultural experts. Agriculture is also taught in schools- to equip learners with new and better techniques of farming that could boost production.
- People are being educated about the need for family planning so that families have only number of children whom they can feed and provide for.
- The government has formulated a food security policy to enhance production of food in the country. For example a minimum amount of cereals in the government silos has been set up with urgent measures to top up outlined.