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close this bookBetter Farming Series 15 - Cereals (FAO - INADES, 1977, 51 p.)
close this folderWhat are food crops?
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View the documentWhat cereals are grown in Africa?
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View the documentTraditional cereal growing

Traditional cereal growing

· In traditional farming the African farmer clears the land a little, cuts down the herbage and small trees, makes a brush fire and sows. He cultivates this field for two or three years, then leaves it and clears another field. This is called shifting cultivation.

This way of farming is bad. The brush fires spoil the soil and destroy the organic matter. Every year the farmer has to clear a new field. He loses much time and often sows too late.

With shifting cultivation a great deal of land is unused and produces no harvest. Sometimes there is not enough land to feed the people. In many places shifting cultivation cannot be done any more.

· The farmer works with only a few tools. He uses only a machete and a hoe. He cuts the trees and the herbage with the machete. He scratches the soil a little with the hoe. The soil is not well turned over, and water and air do not get well into the soil. Plants are not well nourished.

· The farmer does not enrich the soil. Usually he has no animals, and so does not put any manure on the field. He does not use fertilizers. So the soil stays poor and yields a small harvest.