Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment

Vol 11, Issue 2,2013
Online ISSN: 1459-0263
Print ISSN: 1459-0255

Optional crop technologies at a semi-arid ecotope in southern Africa


E. T. Gwata 1*, J. Mzezewa 2

Recieved Date: 2012-11-11, Accepted Date: 2013-04-18


In semi-arid areas, marginal and erratic rainfall, exacerbated by high runoff and evaporation losses, constrains crop production. The greater Limpopo River Basin (LRB) in southern Africa is classified as a semi-arid region. Many ecotopes in the basin that are inhabited by smallholder growers receive <500.0 mm of annual rainfall which is poorly distributed. In addition, the cropping seasons are characterized by highly variable rainfall patterns and frequent dry spells. The harsh climatic conditions and high seasonal variability of rainfall impose major challenges for smallholder crop growers in the area. Therefore, the objective of this interpretive review paper was to provide tangible optional crop technologies for growers in a semi-arid region such as the LRB. The optional crop technologies include short-duration cultivars that can escape terminal drought stress and drought tolerant small grain cereals, particularly finger millet (Eleusine coracana), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) and pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum). The drought tolerant legumes relevant to these agro-ecological types include bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea), chickpea (Cicer arietinum), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) as well as tapery bean (Phaseolus acutifolius). In addition, these crop technologies need to be complemented by in-field water conservation and harvesting techniques. These crop technologies are progressively becoming more relevant for household food security in the face of more frequent and severe droughts in the region. 


Agro-ecology, drought tolerant legumes, small-grain cereals, water harvesting

Journal: Journal of Food, Agriculture and Environment
Year: 2013
Volume: 11
Issue: 2
Category: Agriculture
Pages: 291-295

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