PROBLEMS OF HORTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA
Commercial methods of production of vegetable crops in Africa have been given relatively little attention until recent times, although traditional methods of cultivation have evolved over a considerable period. The growth in urban populations and economic factors favouring crop diversification in the general pattern of agricultural production have been, in many parts of Africa, factors which have contributed to an increasing interest in the value of annual food crops. Exports of fresh vegetables to Europe have been developed in recent years and this has undoubtedly stimulated production in parts of the Continent where climatic conditions are favourable to the production of types of vegetable acceptable to the European market.
Other factors which have influenced production are the changes brought about by the rise in living standards and improvements in educational levels; there is, in consequence, a growing appreciation of the value of vegetables in maintaining nutritional standards. Many traditional types of vegetable have become less popular as a result of changes in food preferences, but others have retained their popularity; the selection and introduction of improved cultivars of traditional kinds of vegetable can be regarded as factors in maintaining interest in their cultivation.
The following have been selected as being typical of some of the limitations imposed on the development of commercial vegetable production in many parts of Africa; each geographical region has specific problems and the approach to the solution of these problems will obviously depend upon the resources available.