BUSH FALLOWING IN WEST AFRICA
Bush fallowing is a system of farming or the cultivation of one piece of land for some years before the farmer leaves the piece of land to cultivate another in order to allow the former to regain lost nutrients.
Favourable Conditions Necessary for Bush Fallowing
(i) Abundance of large area of farmlands.
(ii) Low population in the area.
(iii) Low level of education of the farmers.
(iv) Use of crude tools and implements.
(v) Low level of technology.
Characteristics of Bush Fallowing
(i) Farming is purely subsistence i.e. for family consumption.
(ii) It involves the use of crude implements like cutlass and hoe.
(iii) It is very common in rural areas where land is in abundance.
(iv) Food crops such as yam, cassava and maize are grown.
(v) Family labour is employed.
(vi) It is practiced where population is low.
(vii) Farmlands are left to fallow for 3-5 years.
Types of crops grown
Food crops are mainly grown such as:
(a) Root and tuber crops e.g yam, cassava and cocoyam.
(b) Cereal (grain) crops e.g. rice, millet, maize etc.
(c) Berry e.g. tomato
Advantages of Bush Fallowing
(i) It brings about natural restoration of lost nutrients to the soil.
(ii) It helps to control plant diseases and pests.
(iii) It uses cheap family labour.
(iv) It checks soil erosion, leaching and weed growth.
(v) It is very easy to practice as low technology is required.
(vi) A farmer gets different crops from the same land.
(vii) It involves low capital investment i.e. it is cheap to operate.
(viii) It provides Pasture for livestock animals.
Disadvantages of Bush Fallowing
- It leads to wastage of land.
- It leads to land fragmentation due to increase in population.
- It allows cultivation of only one seasonal crop like maize, rice, millet etc.
- It does not give room for mechanization of farms.
- It leads to soil erosion when soil is exhausted.
- It destroys valuable forest resources like timber.
Currently, Bush Fallowing is almost obsolete (dead) in West Africa for the following reasons:
- Due to shortage of land as a result of increasing population
- The population is increasing hence, there is much pressure on land
- The land tenure system is a major set-back to bush fallowing
- The practice of mechanized agriculture now discourages bush fallowing
- There is high demand for land for industrial, commercial and residential uses
- Urbanization which is the growth of towns and cities is making bushy area to be scarce.