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For a millennium, rural communities in Africa have relied on subsistence farming, also called small-scale agriculture. Producing food for one’s immediate family only, without any extra to sell, characterises this subset of agriculture. Despite the rise of industrial farming methods, subsistence farming is still deeply ingrained in African culture and has the ability to transform Africa’s agricultural sector.

How subsistence farming helps curb food insecurity

Food insecurity is a serious problem in many African countries, yet subsistence farming helps solve this problem. Subsistence farmers may protect their families’ access to healthy food all year round by growing it themselves, regardless of weather or political conditions. It is especially important for a continent like Africa, where over 250 million people are malnourished, to be able to rely on its own resources.

Why this type of farming is an essential part of African agriculture

On an even a smaller scale, subsistence farming can help the planet. Subsistence farming, in contrast to industrial agriculture, often takes place on a small scale and employs environmentally sustainable techniques. Rainfall, native plant varieties, and organic fertilisers are only some of the natural resources that subsistence farmers rely on to protect soil quality and limit erosion. This helps maintain a healthy ecology and guarantees the continuation of sustainable farming techniques.

Added benefits of subsistence farming

Subsistence farming also has the added benefit of being doable for smallholder farmers who lack the capital necessary to expand into commercial agriculture. Costly inputs like farm machinery, artificial fertilisers, and pesticides aren’t necessary for subsistence farmers. Instead, subsistence farmers rely on indigenous knowledge and traditional farming implements, such as hoes and machetes. This means that people of varying socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of education are equally capable of engaging in subsistence agriculture.

The disadvantages of small-scale agriculture

Though it offers many advantages, subsistence farming also has its drawbacks. The inability to reach potential customers is a major hurdle. Farmers who grow only enough food for their own families, known as subsistence farmers, rarely have any extra produce to sell. They are unable to raise their standard of living since they cannot make a living through farming. The construction of local markets or the provision of storage facilities and transportation are two examples of how the government and private sector can assist subsistence farmers in overcoming this barrier to market access.

What can be done to help solve one of the major hurdles subsistent farmers face?

However, many people believe that subsistence farming is a quaint and ineffective method that has no place in today’s agricultural world. Government agricultural policies so tend to ignore subsistence farmers in favour of more profitable commercial agriculture. To solve this problem, people’s perspectives need to change so that they appreciate the role that subsistence farming plays in ensuring food safety and encouraging environmentally responsible farming practises.

Food security, environmental protection, and inclusion of smallholder farmers in agricultural production are just a few of the ways in which subsistence farming has the potential to transform Africa’s agricultural sector. In spite of this potential, however, subsistence farmers face a number of obstacles, such as a lack of access to markets and the neglect of subsistence farming in agricultural programmes, which necessitates the involvement from the government and the business sector. Subsistence farming has the potential to play a major role in achieving food security and sustainable agriculture in Africa if these difficulties are addressed.