Bush Fallowing in West Africa


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In today’s class, we will be talking about bush fallowing in West Africa. Enjoy the class!

Bush Fallowing in West Africa

Bush Fallowing in West Africa | classnotes.ng

Bush fallowing is a system of farming or the cultivation of one piece of land for some years before the farmer leaves the piece of land to cultivate another in order to allow the former to regain lost nutrients.

Favourable conditions necessary for bush fallowing

  1. The abundance of a large area of farmlands.
  2. Low population in the area.
  3. Low level of education of the farmers.
  4. Use of crude tools and implements.
  5. Low level of technology.

Characteristics of bush fallowing

  1. Farming is purely subsistence i.e. for family consumption.
  2. It involves the use of crude implements like cutlass and hoe.
  3. It is very common in rural areas where land is in abundance.
  4. Food crops such as yam, cassava and maize are grown.
  5. Family labour is employed.
  6. It is practiced where population is low.
  7. Farmlands are left to fallow for 3-5 years.

Types of crops grown

Food crops are mainly grown such as:

  1. Root and tuber crops e.g yam, cassava and cocoyam.
  2. Cereal (grain) crops e.g. rice, millet, maize etc.
  3. Berry e.g. tomato
Advantages of bush fallowing
  1. It brings about natural restoration of lost nutrients to the soil.
  2. It helps to control plant diseases and pests.
  3. It uses cheap family labour.
  4. It checks soil erosion, leaching and weed growth.
  5. It is very easy to practice as low technology is required.
  6. A farmer gets different crops from the same land.
  7. It involves low capital investment i.e. it is cheap to operate.
  8. It provides Pasture for livestock animals.
Disadvantages of bush fallowing
  1. It leads to wastage of land.
  2. It leads to land fragmentation due to increase in population.
  3. It allows the cultivation of only one seasonal crop like maize, rice, millet etc.
  4. It does not give room for mechanization of farms.
  5. It leads to soil erosion when soil is exhausted.
  6. It destroys valuable forest resources like timber.


  1. Give two reasons why bush fallowing is unpopular today.
  2. Why is bush fallowing not practised in areas of the large population?
Current trends

Currently, Bush Fallowing is almost obsolete (dead) in West Africa for the following reasons:

  1. Due to shortage of land as a result of increasing population
  2. The population is increasing hence, there is much pressure on land
  3. The land tenure system is a major set-back to bush fallowing
  4. The practice of mechanized agriculture now discourages bush fallowing
  5. There is high demand for land for industrial, commercial and residential uses
  6. Urbanization which is the growth of towns and cities is making bushy area to be scarce.
General evaluation
  1. What is bush fallowing?
  2. Mention two factors that favour bush fallowing.
  3. Mention four characteristics or features of bush fallowing.
  4. Describe the pattern of land preparation in bush fallowing.
  5. State three disadvantages of bush fallowing.

Reading assignment

Essential Geography pages 332-333

Weekend assignment

  1. One of these is not used in bush fallowing (a) Hoe  (b) Cutlass    (c) Tractor
  2. Bush fallowing is mainly for …………. (a) Export     (b) Import     (c) Subsistence
  3. One of these had made the system of bush fallowing difficult (a) abundance of land   (b) growing population     (c) poor farm tools
  4. One of these crops is not popularly planted in bush fallowing system (a) Cotton    (b) Sugar cane     (c) Cassava
  5. The system of bush fallowing is still popular in some _______ areas. (a) Developed    (b) rural         (c) Urban


  1. Outline any five characteristics of bush fallowing.
  2. Give five reasons why bush fallowing system is becoming unpopular.


In our next class, we will be talking about Mining in Africa (Copper, Gold and Petroleum).  We hope you enjoyed the class.

Should you have any further question, feel free to ask in the comment section below and trust us to respond as soon as possible.

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