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close this bookSustaining the Future: Economic, Social, and Environmental Change in Sub-Saharan Africa (UNU, 1996, 365 pages)
close this folderPart 1: Economy and society: development issues
close this folderIntroduction to population, resources, and sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentInternal and international migration
View the documentNatural resources
View the documentHuman resources
View the documentPopulation, agricultural land, and food supply
View the documentPopulation, economy, and sustainable development
View the documentReferences

Population, agricultural land, and food supply

Tables 4.1 and 4.2 suggest that population growth may well be a threat to land-carrying capacity in several of the Sub-Saharan countries. As the population totals have increased (and even rural populations have increased, despite urbanward migration and expansion of the agricultural area), so landholdings have tended to decrease in size and the fallow area, still important for restoring fertility, has been reduced.

Dependence on agriculture will involve greater pressures and a more precarious food situation in future, possibly entailing greater dependence on food imports and food aid, combined with more intensive production using improved agricultural technology and innovations. Much of the agricultural base is widely dispersed, with long distances to market and high transport costs plus poor market information. Imported food is more centrally marketed, often cheaper than locally produced food for the urban consumer, and easier to subsidize in order to support the poor or keep down urban wages. In some cases food imports are not the effect of low agricultural productivity but, at least in part, the cause.