Page 1: Introduction
Stretching from Cape Town in South Africa, across the Sahara Desert, to the Mediterranean Sea in the north, Africa is the world's second largest continent. It is rich in natural resources such as oil and gold, and enjoys many different climates that support the growth of crops as diverse as cereals in the savannah lands to cocoa in the tropical rainforest zones.
Despite all this natural wealth, the people of Africa have actually become poorer over the past 25 years, with many nations falling into the United Nations category of least-developed countries (LDCs). This means that:
- family incomes are very low
- health standards are poor with HIV Aids rates high
- opportunities for education are poor.
Altogether, these conditions mean that citizens are very vulnerable, particularly those involved with agriculture. Over the years, many African countries have found it tough to develop their economies, and investment in the agricultural sector has been low. This means that farming has often become unsustainable.
To improve their position and ensure sustainable development in agriculture, farmers need to produce higher yields from their crops without damaging their environment. This can only be achieved by dealing with pests and diseases, and by using better planting material.
Sustainable agriculture will mean that the farmers can grow crops for their families, and for sale at local village markets (food crops) as well as crops to be traded with other countries (export crops) for years to come without damaging the environment.
The plight of Africa was in the headlines in 2005 when the G8 countries met at Gleneagles in Scotland to discuss world policy issues. At the same time, headlines were being made through a series of concerts called Live8. These took place in ten cities around the world. Both the world's leaders and musicians helped people around the globe to understand some of the issues affecting Africa.