Farming across Africa has played a vital role in the shaping of the continent. For many years, Africa was known for its agricultural superiority, thanks to the local farming practices implemented by the indigenous ethnic groups. Nowadays, though, some of these practices have been dramatically replaced thanks to mechanised farming and the growth of international companies which provide equipment for these new procedures. One of the questions asked by many scientists and historians is how the history of farming across Africa has evolved since the advent of these new technologies. This article will shed some light on this question.
The history of farming across the continent can be divided into four major events, each punctuated by major demographic transformations. The first was the dawn of slavery across Africa when the local communities were torn apart by the demand for slave production. Slavery ended with the rise of the slave trade, which facilitated the development of the economy further. The next event was the formation of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in the sixteenth century. This led to the rise in mass slave arrivals from the Americas and Europe and resulted in an unparalleled demographic explosion across the African continent.
The fourth event was the rise of the European powers at the end of the last century. With the advent of the world power, the European powers were able to expand their sphere of influence, and they quickly grabbed control of African territories. These events laid the ground for the rise of the colonial powers in the region. In order to gain domination over the various agricultural sectors across the African continent, the colonisers implemented harsh policies which adversely affected the local farming communities. In order to reverse the process, the colonial powers offered incentives to local farmers, giving them better lands and other benefits in return for engaging in plantation labour.
All this brought about the rapid expansion of farm production across the African continent. The major impact of this was the movement of people across the region. Initially, farming was done by family units. However, as farming became more productive and income levels rose, larger numbers of people began to emigrate to other parts of the world in search of a better life.
As far as the development of townships in Africa is concerned, it can be said that most of these were established during the colonial era when major shocks to the economy were felt. Townships across the region were established to provide a means of living for the rural African communities. At the same time, they were also repositories of wealth as well as of power. As a result, some of the earliest settlements in Africa such as Akan, Bambuhu, Mombasa and others were established to act as centres of political and economic organisation. The earliest records of town planning and construction are found in Akan.
When it comes to agricultural history, Mombasa stands out as the major centre of African farming in modern times. There, cotton, coffee and other crops are cultivated in large quantities. At the same time, the trade routes developed and helped to develop local industry in addition to agriculture. These were mainly used to support the larger scale farming that took place across the region. Agriculture itself has contributed to the economic progress in many ways and one such way is through the exports of livestock and other products.