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IGCSE and GCSE Agriculture

3.1 Agricultural systems
Candidates should be able to:
• Describe in general terms the main features of an agricultural system: inputs, processes and
• Describe the influence of natural and human inputs on the processes and outputs of the two
agricultural systems listed in the syllabus (a large-scale system of commercial farming and
smallscale subsistence farming). Studies should include natural inputs (relief, climate and soil) and
human inputs (economic, social and sometimes political). Their combined influences on the scale of
production, methods of organisation and the products of each system should be studied. Reference
may be made to an example such as plantation agriculture or extensive commercial cereal farming
or extensive livestock production, etc., to illustrate a large-scale system of commercial farming.
Examples such as intensive subsistence rice cultivation or shifting cultivation, etc. could profitably
illustrate a system of small-scale subsistence farming. Other illustrations might be selected rather
than the above. In each case reference should be made to a detailed case study.
• Recognise the causes and effects of food shortages. Shortages of food may be related to natural
problems such as soil exhaustion, drought, floods, tropical cyclones, pests, disease, etc. There
should be an awareness of the effects of these natural problems on selected areas within LEDCs.
Economic and political factors and their effects upon food shortages should be noted, for example
low capital investment, poor distribution/transport difficulties, wars, etc. The effects of food
shortages in
encouraging food aid and measures such as those of the ‘Green Revolution’ to produce more food
should also be considered.
Agriculture (farming): The production of crops and or livestock.
Aquaculture: The farming of aquatic (water based) plants and animals e.g. mussels, fish and
Pastoral Farming: The rearing of animals.
Livestock: Animals that are domesticated and reared on a farm.
Arable Farming: The growing of crops.
Crops: Types of plants that are grown on a farm e.g. wheat, corn, rice and barley.
Mixed Farming: Farming that rears animals and cultivates (grows) crops.

physical (natural) and human impacts are normally separated.Subsistence Farming: Farming that involves only rearing enough animals and/or growing enough crops to support immediate friends and family. processes and outputs. (lamb. land and crops (normally • Sun: Energy to help preparing it for • Animal feed from cows) plants and animals to planting seeds. Farming as a System Just like industry. • Fertilising: animal pesticides • Alluvium: This is Adding chemicals excrement • Calves. (normally • Precipitation: Water • Ploughing: (barns. the crop output. Shifting Cultivation: Farming that moves from one location to another every couple of years. if support of animals products it is less fertile and to maturity. In farming. Extensive Farming: Where there are relatively few inputs (and possibly outputs) per hectare of land. mineral and nutrient to the soil to try • Methane Chicks. • • • • Normally a larger farm Relatively few inputs per hectare Relatively few workers per hectare Relatively low yields per hectare Intensive Farming: Where there are relatively high inputs and outputs per hecatre of land. • Normally a smaller farm • Relatively high inputs per hectare • Relatively high number of workers per hectare • Relatively high yields per hectare Hectare: A hectare is an area of measurement equivalent to 10.000m2. outputs. can only support • Shearing: The combine chicken. • Waste e. farming can also be looked at as a system with inputs. Yield: This is the amount of crops that are harvested i. silos) from sheep) that helps water the • Seed to grow Turning over the • Milk crops. Commercial Farming: Farming for the purpose of making a profit. . • Fertlisers and grow. The farm and the farmer stays in the same place every year. (tractors. grass then pastoral harvesters. • Labour • Soil: If soil is fertile • Rearing: This is • Profits (workers) then arable farming is the caring for and • Meat • Machinery likely to take place.) from animals. Sedentary Farming: Farming that takes places in a permanent location. removing of wool pork) farming is likely to etc.e. Human Inputs: Physical Inputs: Natural Processes: The events Outputs: Things Things that are built things that are either found that take place on a farm that are produced on or made by humans on a farm or are added to a to turn inputs into a farm and are often and added to a farm. • Wool take place. beef. sold.g. farm. • Buildings normally sheep.

Cultivating: To care for and grow crops. • Drainage: It is important that fields are well drained so they are not permanently flooded. Apart from rice most crops and animals can't survive being permanently submerged. Weeding: Removing alien plants (plants other than the crops your are growing) from crop fields. Harvesting: The collection of crops at the end of the growing season. silos.) If a farmer has a really successful year. • • • • • • and make it more fertile. • Flood water: Floods not only bring alluvium but also water to keep the ground moist. His choices may include: • • • • He may sell some of his livestock He may sell some of his land He may diversify by opening a shop or a small B&B He may try and farm more intensively by buying more fertilisers and pesticides . Irrigating: Watering the land. Slaughtering: The killing of animals once they have reached maturity and are ready to sell. wheat.g. If land is hilly then pastoral farming is more likely to take place. (small animals bought to rear and later sell) rich sediment (load) that is transported by rivers and deposited on floodplains in times of flood. by: • • • • • • Buying more land Buying better and newer equipment e. (mainly from cows) • Crops (corn. However. etc. maybe GM crops Building new buildings e.g. • Relief: If land is flat then it is easier for arable farming to take place.piglets. he maybe able to change his inputs the next year. he has to make decisions the next year. Does he invest in inputs and try and recoup loses or does he cut back on inputs. potatoes. etc. if a farmer has had a really bad year. new tractor or combine harvester Improving drainage and/or irrigation Buying new varieties of seed. Planting: Putting seeds into the ground. carrots. barns or greenhouses Buying more animals or better breeds Alternatively the farmer may choose to have a more relaxing year and leave some of the land fallow or set it aside for environmental purposes.

very little equipment is used. Humans can change some of the natural inputs found on farms. Irrigation Channels: The construction of irrigation channels diverting more water onto farmland should make the ground more moist and easier to farm. harvested crops or to protect animals. seedlings planted. Subsistence Farming . Barns: A large structure normally made from wood or corrugated steel to store machinery. . Traditions means that plots of land are divided up after death which makes the farms less productive as they get smaller. warm (over 20 degrees centigrade most of the time) and fairly fertile (alluvium from flood events).g. some areas are getting warmer and drier. irrigation channels need to be dug. The climate is changing in many ways an altering natural inputs in many ways. The mouth of the Ganges is in the Bay of Bengal. What ever the change farmers will have to adapt to the changing inputs. The changes are not always intentional. Much of India and Bangladesh are very poor and a lot of the farming that takes place is subsistence farming (growing crops for immediate friends and family). weeds removed and rice harvested. Drainage Ditches: Improved drainage may allow previously flooded land to be farmed and drain flood water away quicker. The area around the Ganges is moist (especially during the monsoon sea). However. Because most of paddies and plots of land are small. but it will also reduce flooding and therefore the amount of alluvium that is deposited on farm land. Because of the natural inputs growing can take place most of the year and fairly intensively. wheat and barley. Acid Rain: Acid rain which is largely caused by human pollution can alter the pH of of soil and damage crops again forcing farmers to adapt their farming techniques. As well as humans animals like water buffalo are used.Ganges River.Silos: A large tall building designed to store and protect crops that have been harvested e. Construction of a Dam: A construction of a nearby dam may improve the supply of water and allow new irrigation channels to be built. growing rice is very labour intensive. The reduced input of alluvium may force farmers to use more fertilisers. rice paddies need to be constructed to hold water. while other areas are getting wetter. India and Bangladesh The Ganges river flows eastwards from the Himalayas through northern India and into Bangladesh. nor always caused by the farmer but may include: Climate Change: It is now widely accepted that the main cause of climate change is the enhanced greenhouse effect that has been caused by humans.

August is the month with peak rainfall reaching about 300mm. Climate graphs show two variables. The rainfall appears to have two very distinct seasons. India Successes of Green Revolution • HYV did increase food production and made countries like India more selfsufficient • Food prices began to fall making them more affordable for the poor • More crops could be grown because of the shorter growing seasons • The yields were more reliable • Different crops were grown adding variety to local diet • There were surpluses so crops could then be traded commercially Failures of Green Revolution • Large amounts of fertilisers and pesticides were needed that could then pollute water sources • The HYV were more susceptible to disease and drought • More water had to be diverted to growing the crops • Many poorer farmers could not afford to buy the more expensive HYV seed • Mechanisation has taken place leading to unemployment • Many natural varieties lost . except for the month of September which experiences a slight increase to about 27 degrees centigrade. Monsoon: This is the term normally used to describe South Asia's rainy season running from May to October. The main change was the introduction of HYV crops which aimed to increase yields. temperature in a line graph (often coloured red) and rainfall in a bar graph (normally coloured blue). There is a lot of rain from May through to October and very little from November through to April.To try and improve yields in areas like the Ganges River the so called green revolution started in the late 1960's. These successes and failures are summarised below the climate information. Climate Graph for Kolkata. In January the temperature is about 20 degrees centigrade rising to about 28 degrees centigrade in May. about 8 degrees centigrade. When looking at climate graphs you always need to remember that they are average conditions and that months can be hotter or colder. If we look at Kolkata's climate graph we can notice that it has a fairly small temperature range. drier or wetter than shown on the graph. The green revolution brought some successes and failures. Climate Graph for Kolkata Climate graphs are very useful for showing the average conditions of a city or region. The green revolution was an idea to introduce western plant varieties and farming techniques. It then decreases gently reaching 20 degrees centigrade in December. while December has the lowest with about 5mm.

but it maybe possible if neighbouring farmers are cooperating. Green Revolution: The introduction of modern western style farming techniques in LEDCs during the late 1960's and 1970's. • Use HYV or GM crops: These should increase the average yield. • Land reform: Changing traditional practices of dividing land into smaller and smaller profits can ensure that plots of land remain big enough to make farming sustainably. but the crops can be expensive to buy. • Terracing: By terracing on hillsides farmers maybe able to increase the size of their land. • Buy more land: Not always possible but if a farmer has money (maybe a micro loan) then he could try and buy extra land. HYV: High yield varieties were developed to try and end food shortages by increasing yields. • Use fertlisers and pesticides: Use fertilisers so it is possible to grow more intensively and use pesticides to stop plants being killed by infestations. Also intensive farming may degrade the quality of the soil overtime. grow for two seasons or farm land that was previously too arid. • Modern machinery: Using machinery might not always be possible of small plots of land. . Even if climatic conditions are favourable by changing some of the inputs like irrigation and drainage then it may become possible. Terracing can also reduce the use of water. In many societies on someones death the land is passed to the eldest son or divided amongst all the siblings (sons and possibly daughters). There are a number of ways that subsistence farmers can try and increase their yields and make money. Machinery should make farming more efficient and may increase yields by ploughing better and harvesting quicker. farmers can share technology and possibly even land to try and increase production. but also possibly have extra to sell and earn an income. Increasingly this is being done through genetic modification. • Irrigation: By watering crops more frequently it maybe possible to grow crops over a longer season. Labour Intensive: When work done is mainly done by humans and animals. If the land is divided it means the plots of land get smaller and smaller with each generation and become increasingly difficult to farm effectively. • Two crops: In some countries it is possible to grow two sets of crops each year (these might be the same crops or different crops). Tenure: This means who owns the land.• Many farmers became wealthier • Countries and farmers became dependent of foreign companies for the supply of seed. • Cooperatives: By joining together with nearby farmers. If they increase their yields they can support their families. High yield varieties were first developed by cross pollinating different varieties of rice.

NIMBY: NIMBY stands for not in my back yard and it is the phenomenon of people approving of certain developments. The farm receives subsidies under the CAP. A surplus for a commercial farmer may mean that they have too much to sell and may dump it as aid on an LEDC or simply throw it away.Commercial Farming . If competition from outside was allowed then cheaper products could be imported. In farming this might be moving to mixed farming or adding new crops. opening a coffee shop or farm shop or allowing educational visits. become self sufficient. Surpluses: This is when you have an excess of crops. a wind turbine. UK Commercial farming is growing agricultural products with the aim of making a profit. the soil is fertile and the temperature warm with plentiful rainfall. Cambridgeshire. It could be considered an example of extensive farming because its inputs are small compared to its size. although its outputs are large. A surplus for a subsistence farmer will mean that they can sell it at market and make a profit. The farm is located in Cambridgeshire which is the east of England. However.g. It has also tried to build a wind turbine but that has met with local protests (NIMBY). Commercial farms will use more equipment like tractors and combine harvesters. to be self sufficient and to protect from foreign competition. Cambridgeshire is a good location for farming because the land is flat. but not wanting them to happen near where they live e. it might also mean opening a bed and breakfast (small guesthouse). The EU gives many of its farmers subsidies in order to protect tradition. Mechanisation: Replacing humans with machine. However. CAP: The Common Agricultural Policy is the EU's farming policy aimed at creating a single European market for farm products. The CAP and EU subsidies have been criticised as protectionist and actually keeping the prices of farm products in the EU artificially high. The subsidies that Lynford Hall Farm receives are designed to improve the EU's self sufficiency and protect the environment of the farm. Lynford Hall farm has also tried to diversify and save money. Subsidies: Subsidies are financial help given to industries to make their production cheaper. Lynford Hall farm is a large farm (570 hectares) and highly mechanised and computerised. before farming started in Cambridgeshire the areas had to be drained because it was mainly wetland.Lynford Hall Farm. increase farm income and provide financial support. It has done this by selling some unused land and renting bungalows on the farm. potatoes and peas. Diversification: This means increase the range of products. Countries or individual farms may produce surpluses for a number of reasons including: . Because of this it does not employ large numbers of workers. Lynford Hall Farm is an arable farm growing mainly wheat.

the fertility of the land and weather may all be perfect. Vietnam now has over 500. rural areas have become overcrowded. • Main sector of the economy: For countries where farming is the main sector of the economy then greater support and help will be put into the farming sector giving it a better chance to produce surpluses for sale. elephants and the Javan rhino (now believed to be extinct in Vietnam). Coffee production has brought jobs (estimated 500. The relief of the land. Vietnam used to produce very little coffee. the majority of its citizens are still employed in the primary sector . The large scale deforestation has also led to erosion of topsoil and loss of wildlife . • Farming techniques/practices: New farming techniques like greater use of fertilisers.mainly fishing and farming.Vietnam has many endangered animals including tigers. machinery. but it has also caused many problems. Some years may also be better than others because of hot summers or absence of frost which makes certain years better than other creating surpluses. leopards. irrigation. The graph clearly highlights how much prices can fluctuate by and demonstrates the risk of depending on one crop for income.• Subsidies: Financial help may allow a farmer to increase his inputs (land. • Crop varieties: The use of new varieties like GM crops may increase yields and lead to surpluses. etc.000 hectares only in Dac Lac Province).000 hectares dedicated to coffee plantations (most in the Central Highlands). but after heavy promotion by the Vietnamese government it quickly turned into the world's second biggest producer after Brazil and actually the biggest producer of the cheaper robusta coffee (the other type of coffee is arabica which has a better taste and sells for more). The graph to the right shows the world coffee prices over a ten year period. .000 accounting for 2% of national workforce) and income (in 2008 the export value was estimated to be over $2 billion) to Vietnam. there are water shortages because of the all the water used to irrigate the coffee plants and the rapid growth of Vietnamese coffee exports caused the price of coffee to collapse. Large areas of rainforest have been cleared (74.Coffee Farming in Vietnam Vietnam is located in SE Asia. • Favourable natural inputs: Farms or countries may have ideal conditions to grow certain crops. Although the Vietnamese economy is growing quickly. irrigation or crop rotation may increase yields. Cash Crops .) which will allow them to produce more crops. Vietnam's main customers are the US and Germany.

There are a number of problems that come from specialising in one crop (monoculture). Therefore it is better to grow a variety of crops as to minimise the risk of damage. For examples frost can destroy fruits. cocoa beans and palm oil. • Price Fluctuations: Because cash crops are traded globally. The problems include: • Disease: If you only grow one crop. Monoculture: This is the growing of only one type of crop. Therefore if you are only growing one crop and the price collapses. • Natural disasters: Some crops are more vulnerable to natural disasters than others. then you potentially lose all of your income. they can be wiped out if they are attacked by a disease or parasite. grown in MEDCs. rubber. Cash crops are often grow in LEDCs and refer to things like bananas. If you have a mixture of crops then other should survive if one is attacked. Cash crops are sometimes referred to as commodities. grains can be flooded by rain. etc. barley. but they can also refer to corn. then you lose the majority of your income. For example if you grow only coffee and every suddenly stops drinking coffee because of the fear of caffeine then you could lose all of your income. their prices can fluctuate with changes in supply and demand. wheat.Cash crops: Crops that are normally grown in large plantations for the purpose of selling (making a profit). bananas can be damaged by hurricanes. coffee beans. tea. . • Changing Demands: Again if you only grow one crop and the demand for that crop changes.

Because land will become infertile very quickly. without its normal source of nutrients (rotting plant and animal matter) the soil soon becomes infertile and the farmers are forced to move onto a new location. • Silting of rivers caused by top soil being washed into rivers. causing soil to lose its fertility very quickly • Breaking the stability of the soil and causing top soil erosion. Nomadic: Nomadic simply means moving from place to place. GM Crops and Organic Farming ADVANTAGES ORGANIC CROPS AND GM FARMING AND CROPS: FARMING: Farming that uses Genetically modified crops are natural varieties and natural farming crops that have their genes altered techniques. Slash and burn farming: The process of cutting down areas of forest and then burning the stubble/roots in order to farm. faster saturation of ground and increased surface run-off. Once the land is cleared farming will take place. • More flash floods caused by the reduced interception. • The growing season is often pesticides are used so there is minimal run-off into rivers or shorter and can often be infiltration into groundwater possible to have two or . However. Tree roots are very good at holding soil in place. The silt can then be washed into the seas blocking shipping channels or damaging reefs. However.Shifting Cultivation Farming that involves clearing an area of land (deforestation) in order to farm. slash and burn farmers will move land every few years. Shifting cultivation is often criticised for causing problems including: • The killing or disturbance of flora and fauna. others would argue that shifting cultivation is normally carried out by indigenous groups who have been custodians of the rainforest for thousands of years and therefore should know how to care for it. Subsistence farmers who practice shifting cultivation (slash and burn farming) are nomadic because they move locations every few years. Shifting cultivation is usually small-scale subsistence farming. storage and transport easier • Limited fertilisers or and/or appeal to customers. • The breaking of the nitrogen cycle. Also it maintains a traditional way of life and is only small-scale as apposed to some of large cattle ranches that deforest large areas of rainforest. There is only very to improve quality and/or quantity limited use of fertlisers. • Because the crops take longer • Crops are all uniform in to ripen then they have better shape which may make flavour. If you remove these roots then water and wind erosion is more likely to happen. Shifting cultivation is very common amongst indigenous groups in rainforests.

Although this is natural it may put off some customers. • The crops maybe susceptible to diseases.g. it is possible for farmers to be more environmentally sustainable by following a number of other practices including: • Plant hedges to act as wind break and create habitats for animals • Protect plant and animal species by building or protecting habitats e. • There are also much less chemicals they maybe consumed by customers. • It can lead to the development of super weeds to compete with the stronger GM crops • No one knows the long term affects on humans Apart from organic farming. • The crops may take longer to grow increasing the growing season. Drought: When the demand for water exceeds the supply of water causing water stress (water shortages). they don't all look the same. meadow and lakes • Putting aside part of their land to grow wild/natural species (the CAP now offers some funding for farmers who do this) • Rotating crops and growing a greater variety of traditional native crops • Allowing animals to graze outdoor. • The crops may need more water to grow.e. • The taste is often not as good because they have been grown quicker and often grown for appearance rather than taste. • Organic crops often get a higher price when sold to consumers more crop seasons per year. • It maybe possible GM crops in areas previously deemed unsuitable for farming.DISADVANTAGES stores. Prolonged undernourishment can damage people's health and eventually lead to starvation. leaving areas of woodland. • Native/natural species may die as a result because they can't compete with the stronger GM crops. • The crops are not uniform i. . natural manure • Introducing more fallow periods to allow soil to rest • Open educational centres (city farms) Famine Famine: When the demand for food exceeds the supply of food leading to undernourishment. • Crops maybe drought resistant so less water is used in their production.g. rather than live in cages (free range animals and eggs) • Using traditional farming methods instead of relying on fertilisers and pesticides e.

• Conflict: When fighting takes place. • Overcultivation: Trying to grow much on land can cause its degradation by using all the nutrients and not giving them time to recover. If the land becomes degraded then the yields decline. • Rainfall: If there is a shortage of rainfall then most crops will die or need extra irrigation. This is a problem that Malthus predicted. all the vegetation can be eaten. • Pollution: Farming and industrial pollution can both degrade the land and reduce yields of crops. Both factors reduce yields. • Deforestation: By deforesting large areas of woodland. . eggs. This makes the famine even worse because there is less meat. General Problems Caused By Drought and Famine Livestock deaths: When there is a shortage of water and food. Soil is much more vulnerable to erosion when no vegetation is growing on it. Desertification: The process of soil becoming degraded and turning to desert. animals are the first to go without. Physical Causes of Famine • Temperature: Temperatures that are too hot or too cold can both kill crops and animals. This reduces the integrity of the soil and can cause topsoil erosion and soil degradation. Also conflict can also make the land to dangerous to farm (mines) or degrade the soil because of chemical or biological warfare.BBC article) • Natural Disasters: Natural disasters like hurricanes. it is often men that fight removing them from farming duties and therefore reducing yield.Soil Degradation: A reduction in the quality of soil. • Flooding: Although all crops need rainfall. • Overgrazing: By trying to graze too many cattle on land. They can also kill or injure farmers. so animals will start to die. then again the integrity of the soil can be damaged as well as its source of nutrients. tsunamis and volcanoes can destroy large areas of agricultural land. making it harder to grow things. Most crops need steady and reliable temperatures. too much rainfall can flood and kill crops or wash away topsoil reducing the soils fertility. • Corruption: Sometimes government officials or armies can use crops for themselves or their own needs leading the general population to go hungry. (El Salvador Counts Cost as Crops are Destroyed by Floods . If water to irrigate is not available then crops will begin to die and yields reduce. This can cause soil degradation and erosion. both leading to reduced yields. especially things like rice. Soil erosion: The removal of topsoil (topsoil is normally the most fertile layer) usually by wind and water. Human Causes of Famine • Overpopulation: The growing population of the world means that demand for food is increasing. Unfortunately the supply of food is not always matching this demand. • Soil fertility: If soil is infertile because the bedrock contains few minerals or there is no flora and fauna to provide a humus layer then it can be hard to cultivate the land and lead to low yields.

Increasing temperatures and less predictable rainfall combined with deforestation and desertification mean that Niger are likely to experience . This rising population is steadily increasing the demand for food. fighting over these resources is likely to increase. Who it affects it means that people are either unable to go to school or have no one to teach them once they are at school. Death: Severe drought and famine will eventually lead to death. Loss of Education: When drought happens people have to travel further to find food and water. people become weak from undernourishment (lack of food) and are more vulnerable to getting sick. but also when there is famine people often become too weak to work on the land so less crops are grown and the famine worsens. In Niger a lack of rainfall (rainfall varies between 2 and 85 cm in Niger. In the meantime the supply of food is also being affected because of land degradation caused by: • • • • Deforestation Overgrazing Reduced rainfall Increased temperatures The combination of increased demand and reduced supply has meant that many areas in Sahel have suffered from famine (food shortages). Daytime temperatures in Niger are normally over 30 degrees centigrade so evaporation rates are high.Famine and Desertification The Sahel is an area of land south of the Sahara Desert. The areas in the Sahel have very high total fertility rates (the average number of children a woman has in her lifetime) causing the population to rise rapidly. They also become sicker. Famine normally means that the primary sector (farming) has collapsed and people have nothing to sell to make money. Niger. It stretches from Mauritania in the west through Mali. It is usually the very old. Loss of income: If people are unable to work they are unable to work and earn money. Crop failure: Drought can cause crops to fail. Conflict: If the resources of food and water are declining. especially between different tribes and countries. Niger is a poor landlocked country (GDP per capita is about $750 per capita) where over 50% of the population are involved in farming (subsistence farming). Chad and into Eritrea and Ethiopia. Also many countries that suffer from famine have large primary sectors. young or already sick that die first. Both of these factors can impact students and teachers.milk. This has meant that about half of its population of 15 million people face potential food shortages in 2010. Illness: When there is s shortage of food and water. etc. but most falls in a 2 month period) caused a 26% decline in crop yields in 2009. The Sahel .

BBC article Some Solutions to Famine and Land Degradation • Crop Rotation and Fallow Periods: By using different crops and allowing the land to rest it gives nutrients and minerals chance to return to soil making it more fertile and hopefully increase yields over longer periods. be more drought and disease resistant. charities and organisations like the WFP (World Food Programme) can try and distribute food more evenly so no one goes hungry. • Improved Distribution of Crops: It is argued that there is currently enough food to feed everyone but it is not distributed evenly. If more water is available it is then possible to water arid areas of land and hopefully increase crop production. especially in areas with low agricultural output. if they are used properly they should improve the amount of nutrients present in the soil. • Reforestation and afforestation: By foresting areas of land it can ensure that the nitrogen cycle (nutrients) is maintained.increasing problems in the future. Niger is also experiencing rapid population growth with total fertility of 7. grow bigger. • Irrigation: This means watering the land. • Fertlisers and Pesticides: Although overuse of fertilisers and pesticides can damage the soil and pollute nearby water courses. • Desalination: Taking water from the sea and removing the salt to make it good for drinking and agricultural uses. • GM Crops: Some people believe GM crops could drastically reduce famine by increasing yields by allowing crops to grow more quickly. By irrigating more arid areas we should be able to increase agricultural output. • Population Policies: By reducing population growth. Strong Risk of 2010 Famine in Africa's Sahel .4. .Reuters Niger's Complicated Hunger Crisis . it can increase the stability and integrity of the soil and it can form a wind break from erosion and finally prevent flash floods. All these factors should improve the quality of the soil and hopefully crop yields. Governments. we should be able to reduce shortages of food and therefore famine.