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The 4 Constraints to Crop Production in Africa

We are going to look at the 4 constraints to crop production in using Africa as an example below. Many factors have been cited as limiting the growth and development of crop production in tropical Africa. Here we concern ourselves more social, economic and political constraints.

1) Poverty

Poverty is indicated both by the few capital resources and the low cash incomes of Africa farming families. The small size of farm holdings (typically 1-5 ha.) represent very little collateral on a loan, and unless the family own livestock there may be little prospect of raising money to buy equipment or meet emergencies.

Income from the sale of farm produce is typically inadequate to meet essential family expenses such as taxes, school fees, medicine, clothing and house hold items.

Rarely is enough left over for seed, fertilizer or chemicals, let alone for large capital items such as oxen, ploughs and water pumps. Thus the key components of Green Revolution Technology (seed, fertilizer, pesticides) are not generally accessible.

2) Seeds for Crop Production

The adoption of improved varieties in Nigeria is minimal in the case of principal food crops. This is partly due to poor performance of the seed service agency in terms of production, quality assurance, and distribution of improved seeds.

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The 4 Constraints to Crop Production in Africa

3) Agro-Chemicals for Crop Production

The use of fertilizers and pesticide among the peasant farmers in Nigeria is low, this could be due to high cost or poor availability or both. The use of herbicide, insecticide and fungicides is minimal.

Farmers generally lack spraying equipment and technical skills for the timely and effective application of pesticides, which if wrongly applied pose dangers to people, crops and wider environment.

It is often not recognized that decisions concerning what, when and how much to spray are very complex, and sufficient guidance is rarely available to the farmers.

Products are often sold without proper recommendations for use and threshold levels of insects infestation are rarely defined. The repeated application of the same chemicals may lead to rapid development of resistance to it. For this reasons pesticides represent a risk to small-scale farmers.

4) Labour Constraints

Labour constraints are particularly serious because of the low level of adoption of animal traction in the humid zones of Nigeria. The presence of tse-tse fly is one major reason for this but often it is poverty that prevents farmers from buying and using oxen and ploughs.

Without animal traction, the area of land that can be cultivated by one adult is about 0.5 ha. Such small scale cultivation rarely provides a surplus of food or other crops for sale- a prerequisite for economic development.

The use of oxen allows several hectares to be ploughed and perhaps weeded, opening up the possibility of marketing surpluses to fund the purchase of further equipment, new seeds and other inputs.

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