It has been estimated that one third of the land in Tropical Africa is potentially cultivable, though only about 6% of it is currently cultivated. However, to change farming from a low-input, low-yield pattern to a high-input, high-yield pattern necessitates the use of more fertilizer and the planting of high-yielding varieties of crops.
There are a number of environmental factors, related mostly to climate, soils and health, resisting easy developmental solutions. Rainfall reliability is closely connected to rainfall quantity. The rainfall in the equatorial heart is very plentiful and reliable. However, there is much less rainfall towards the outer edges of the rain belt. Periodic and unpredictable droughts are a characteristic feature of these border zones.
There are three climatic zones in Tropical Africa:
1. a region of persistent rain at and near the Equator,
2. a region on each side of this of summer rain and winter drought, and
3. a region at the northern and southern edges afflicted by drought.
All the climates listed in the previous paragraph are modified in the eastern parts of Tropical Africa by the mountains and monsoons.
The soils of Tropical Africa pose another problem. They are unlike the soils of temperate areas. Soils are largely products of their climates, and tropical soils are different from temperate soils because the climate is different. Because of the great heat of the tropics tends to bake the soils, while on the other hand, the rainfall leaches them. The combined heat and moisture tend to produce very deep soils because the surface rock is rapidly broken down by chemical weathering. All this causes the food's rate of growth to slow down or maybe even stop and as a result food production won't even come close in catching up to the rate of... [continues]
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