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GEOG 166 Final Project

Fixing the Issues of Rainfed Agriculture in Tropical Savannas: With Respect to Soil and Water

Christopher Hasbun

Rainfed agriculture is a farming style where the farmer relies heavily, and most of the time, solely on rain to irrigate their crops. Over ninety five percent of people living in Africa rely heavily on rainfed agriculture. Making this the largest continent relying on this type of system. To be more specific, the Sahel region faces more of a serious problem regarding rainfed agriculture. The Sahel region in West Africa, right below the Saharan desert,  includes regions of Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad. These are among the poorest countries in the world, but they also have similar climate as well as similar patterns of soil degradation and precipitation rates. The climate can easily be described as a tropical savanna, in that it faces very high temperatures, but lacks the rainfall that the wet tropics have-- though there is enough rainfall to sustain dryland agriculture. Although rainfed agriculture works well in many temperate climates it comes with a lot of issues in dry tropical/sub-tropical regions. Some of these issues include soil degradation, lack of water infrastructures, and variability in rainfall. These issues are extremely important to work on for two major reasons: food security and desertification. Due to poor soil and water management, families in the sahel region often face nutritional deficits due to lower than potential productivity, which leads to low incomes.  In a study by Irz et al. (2001) shows that, “In Africa an increase in agricultural production of 10 percent leads to a 6–9 percent reduction in rural poverty” (Irz, P.449).  Also due to poor soil and water management, the soil often can become completely degraded leading to plants becoming almost unable to grow in such an environment. Rapid desertification of farmland in the past has led to families abandoning their land and migrating to new lands or urban areas.

GEOG 166 Final Project

  • 2 years 6 months ago