A subsistence farmer. Image credit agricnation.com

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes:Agriculture:Farming types in Africa: Introduction

  • Zimbabwe and in a larger sense Africa are endowed with such a wide diversity of environmental conditions and cultures.
  • This was enhanced as a result of it being colonized by different European countries for over a century.
  • Naturally that led to a variety of farming systems existing on the continent.
  • These range from traditional systems through small scale mixed farming to modern commercial enterprises.

Key Terms

  • Subsistence farming is the growing of crops mainly for home consumption with very little surplus for sale.
  • Shifting cultivation and bush fallowing fall under this type of farming as in the Chitemene system in Zambia, Milpa in India, Ladang in South East Asia and Roca in Central and South America.
  • Mixed farming is where the farmer grows crops and rears livestock at the same time whether on a small or large scale. This has numerous advantages.
  • Commercial farming is growing crops and undertaking animal husbandry on a large scale to sell the products on local and international markets. Agriculture in this system is big agri-business.
  • Plantation (estate) agriculture is a specialized type of commercial farming majoring usually on one perennial crop on even larger pieces of land.
  • Irrigation farming is the growing of crops with the help of artificial application of water on the land when climatic and weather conditions cannot sustain crop growth.
  • The water is drawn from rivers, lakes, dams, underground aquifers and springs.
  • Intensive farming is the concentration of agriculture on a small piece of land in order to maximize outputs.
  • A lot of capital, labour, fertilizer and other input will be concentrated on this small piece of land.
  • Production per unit area of land is high.
  • Extensive farming is where agriculture is undertaken on a very large piece of land, usually with the aid of machinery.
  • Production per unit area of land is low but quite high per head of labour.
  • Nomadic pastoralism is the movement of people and their livestock from place to place looking for pasture and water.
  • Co-operative farming is when farmers form a group and then indulge in farming as a unit, sharing expenses and profits in the process.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page