Boron: Key to good soil health
Much of West Africa lies in a climatic zone between the African savannah grasslands to the south and the Sahara Desert to the north. Severe, long-term droughts have had a major impact on the area over the last several decades, though more frequent rainfall in recent years is contributing to the growth of an expanding green zone.
Predominant crops in the drought zone include millet and sorghum. Farther to the south, cropping switches to maize, groundnuts, and cowpeas, which are some of the most frequently harvested crops in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad.
Cotton provides much-needed revenue to West African smallholder farmers, primarily in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali. Root crops such as cassava and yams are found mostly in Ghana, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast, along with cacao, which grows in wetter areas where soil is more fertile. Palm and cashew trees are also important to the local economy, along with rice, which constitutes much of the population’s diet.
Despite abundant natural resources, agricultural productivity in West Africa is limited by lack of access to affordable and reliable high-quality seeds, fertilizers and information on current agricultural practices. Production in the region is also hindered by poor soil quality, resulting in some of the lowest crop yields in the world.