ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes:Agriculture:Farming types in Africa: Subsistence farming:Bush Fallowing
- In many respects, it is similar to shifting cultivation but differs in that instead of rotating homes, the cultivated land is rotated.
- The once cultivated area is abandoned without any crops for about five years for it to regain fertility.
- This period of non-use and rest is called the fallow period.
Areas where practiced in Africa
- Some parts of Zambia,
- Tunisia and
- Farming is done on a subsistence level
- It involves the use of simple tools like hoes and axes.
- It is common in the rural areas with abundant farmlands.
- It involves small holding farmlands.
- Crops grown are usually yam, cassava, maize and so many others.
- Farmland are left to fallow after one or two years of cultivation.
- It use family labour.
- It uses slash-and-burn method of land preparation.
- Pests and disease are not controlled.
- Bush fallowing is practiced where population is very low.
Problems associated with bush fallowing and shifting cultivation
- Deforestation as trees in large tracts of land must be cut to provide enough branches for ash.
- The Bemba in north-east Zambia clear two hectares of land to supply ash to only half a hectare of garden.
- Burning destroys valuable timber of indigenous trees which could have been profitably exploited commercially.
- The burning loosens soils making them prone to erosion.
- It is thought that the system is wasteful in that 900 kg of nitrogenous and carbon compounds go up in the air as smoke for every one hectare of cleared forest.
- The system simplifies and eventually destroys complex forest ecosystems.
- This certainly kills microorganisms that are vital links in an ecosystem.
- Tropical slash-and-burn agriculture is partly to blame for the hazy atmosphere and the resultant global warming.
- Conversion of tropical rainforests and savanna woodlands into secondary forests and eventually into shrub and desert environments has been blamed on these farming systems.
- With an increase in population, pressure from sedentary (settled) farming and government legislation in much of Africa, these farming systems are dying a natural death.(There is no more free land to shift to)
- The systems are too traditional and prone to the unpredictable changes of nature and so cannot support large populations.
To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page
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