Cycle of Poverty | Owning Farming Land in Africa

African land ownership and grazing rights ownership has been decided by customary laws rather than written ownership through governmental deeds. Land is a political resource throughout Africa lending to the cycle of poverty limiting the Africans resources to owning land in Africa.

Searching for water in East Africa


In rural Africa with subsistence farming, owning land, controlling it and using it are critical dimensions of rural livelihoods. Land is not simply an economic resource it is an important factor in the development of social and cultural identity.

Land is also an enormous political resource, defining power relations between and among individuals, families and communities. In rural cultures, landless or near-landless people and people with insecure land occupancy rights often represent the poorest and most vulnerable groups in Africa.

Planting decisions are made principally with an eye toward what the family will need during the coming year and secondarily toward income-producing crops. Subsistence farming on insecure land continues today in large parts of rural Africa.

Planting rice in Africa
Planting rice in Africa


Agricultural productivity in Africa overall has declined sharply in the past 40 years. This is a glaring difference from the 1960s when some African regions were major agricultural exporters of crops. Farming is a risky business anywhere in the world, but especially if you are a subsistence farmer in Africa. Women play a significant role in subsistence farming as well as in livestock raising and food processing.

Millions of female African farmers face a range of problems, including traditional attitudes of the role of women, denied access to owning land and claiming the land of a dead spouse or relative, not understanding their right under the law, access to credit and fruitful farming materials like fertilizers, pesticides and farming tools. Over 70 percent of the unstable subsistence, farming population lives in the rural areas of Africa.

What is subsistence farming? Subsistence farming in Africa is farming in which farmers grow and eat crops for their family, leaving little or nothing to be sold at market. Legally recognizing land ownership is a political issue in Africa lending to the cycle of poverty limiting the Africans resources to owning land.
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