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The beginnings of tropical plant domestication are more difficult to see, as preservation has made the plant residues hard to find. These plants include yams, rice, and oil-bearing trees. Often, environmental change, such as forest clearing, has to be used as a proxy for farming activities in tropical zones. The history of food production in Africa lags somewhat behind the research done in the Near East and Europe, but genomic work on modern Africans has started in parallel with advanced linguistic work.

Ancient DNA will be the next technological input now that the problems of contamination have been successfully addressed.

From Hunter Gatherer to five minutes or less

There are several good overviews of early food production in Africa that demonstrate the breadth of expertise and theoretical argument that has been brought to bear. Africa was probably never really isolated from the rest of the world, as contacts with Europe across the Straits of Gibraltar , Southwest Asia the Levant , Arabia, and the Indian Ocean in its wider sense probably all contributed ideas and commodities.

However, while Africans developed their own local polities, economies, and technology using raw materials readily at hand, such as metals and indigenous plants and animals, outside influences probably played a lesser part. In the early s, questions of the transition to food production in Africa were being asked that incorporated not only archaeology, but also what was happening among modern hunters.

Clark and Brandt was an attempt to bring various players together to find answers in the debate.

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Shaw, et al. Driving the publication of Blench and MacDonald was the then recent DNA on cattle breeds that indicated a distinct African strain, and a perceived need to integrate ethnographic and linguistic evidence for early African livestock. Gifford-Gonzalez describes the difficulties of herders who had to deal with epizootic diseases when colonizing new areas of Africa. Jousse and Lesur updates much of the recent work on herding in Africa from an archaeozoological perspective.

Blench, Roger M. MacDonald, eds. London: UCL Press, An edited volume of papers presented at a meeting held at the Institute of Archaeology, University of London in This is a useful compilation covering the whole continent. Clark, J. Desmond, and Steven A. Brandt, eds. Berkeley: University of California Press, The thirty chapters by specialists in the field are ordered by region in Africa: North, West, East, and Southern, with additional chapters on the question of hunters becoming food producers.

Gifford-Gonzalez, Diane. DOI: A survey of diseases affecting domestic livestock in Africa and their potential as inhibitors to the initial spread of pastoralism. Available online for purchase or by subscription. Reports in African Archaeology 2. Frankfurt: Africa Magna Verlag, The first part deals with herding in Africa and the second with African faunal diversity.

London: Routledge, A guide dealing mostly with food production and metallurgy in Africa.

How did humans go from foraging to farming? -

Pastoralism - Livestock. An important way of life for millions on drylands of Africa. A form of subsidence agriculture based on the herding of domesticated animals. It is adapted to dry climates where intensive subsistence agriculture is difficult or impossible. The Nomadic tribes are divided into 3 Groups:. True Nomads such as the Fulani, Tuaregs and Masai who are constantly on the move with their large herds of cattle and consider nomadism as a way of life. Transhumance is a seasonal migration of the nomads and their livestock between mountains and lowland pastures in search of green pasture following changes in climate and vegetation..

Sedently Agriculturalists : settled pastoralists attend to their farms as well as keep such animals as cattle, sheep and goats. Crop Cultivation. It is a form of agriculture in which only enough crops are produced to meet the requirements of the family. In good years, there may be a surplus to sell and put aside for hard times.

Subsistence farmers primarily rarely use fertilizers and the sizes of their farms are very small. The whole farming system is based on human labor and draft animals.

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The key implements are the hoe and cutlass matchette. Type of crops grown depends upon the climate and environment. Whereas Africans in the forest belt grow root crops like yams and cassava; plantains, oil palm; their counterparts in the savanna grow millets, sorghum etc. Maize, cassava manioc , peanuts, beans, sweet potatoes introduced to Africa by the Portuguese, possibly from Brazil. There are 4 main agrarian areas: a Forest cultivators who adopt either Shifting Cultivation or Land Rotation as a method of farming, b Savanna cultivators and Oasis cultivators who use irrigation extensively.

Rotational Bush Fallow System:. In this farming system, local groups clear small portions of land by slashing the vegetation and burning the debris after leaving it to dry in the sun. As a result, shifting cultivation is sometimes known as Slash-and-Burn Agriculture. Crops are then cultivated on the plot of land for a certain number of years and when production declines in the third or fourth year , the plot of land is abandoned and new farms are created in a similar manner. People who practice bush fallow system of cultivation live in small rural villages. In the past, the farmers used to rotate with their settlements and belongings.

They moved all settlements occasionally to settle near the new farms. This system was called Shifting cultivation. With rapid increases in population, the size of plots reduces and the number of years a cultivated land may lie fallow to regain its fertility is shortened. Plantation Agriculture : A form of industrialized agriculture found primarily in tropical rainforest regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. It is a permanent agriculture in which cash crops introduced by the Colonialists such as banana, coffee, tea and cocoa are cultivated and harvested for sale.

This farming receives the most attention from African governments because of the exports it generates. Characteristics of Traditional Agricultural Systems. Some inter-planting strategies practiced in by farmers include the following:. Merits include- pest control, self sufficiency, full use of fertilizers and nutrients.

For example a carbohydrate rich grain that uses soil nitrogen may be planted alongside a protein-rich legume that puts the nutrients back. For example, a grain or legume can be planted around fruit-bearing orchard trees or in rows between fast-growing trees that can be used for fuelwood. If cultivated properly, such farms can provide food, fuel, and fertilizers and also meet other food needs of farmers. Fishing is common among coastal dwellers and those living around rivers, lakes and creeks.

Methods used include dug-out canoes, nets etc. Modern technology has brought the outboard motor, but the use of large trawlers not common. Colonial rule brought significant changes to traditional agriculture in Africa.