Domesticating Plants in Africa - Oxford Handbooks
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date: 01 December 2015

Abstract and Keywords

During the last 10,000 years, cultivation and herding have supplanted hunting and gathering as economic strategies almost everywhere. Africa’s sequence of economic change differs from that of most continents in that herding tended to precede crop farming, and domestication of indigenous plants occurred fairly late — during the last 5,000 years. Different innovations in subsistence strategies took place in different parts of Africa: some regions saw animal domestication and the spread of herding, others the domestication of seed crops or the cultivation of perennial plants propagated vegetatively. This article examines the archaeological evidence for these processes in Africa. It also shows how the domestication of various indigenous African crops led to the development of a wide array of agricultural economies within Africa and, eventually, how those economies gave new resources and tastes to other regions of the world.

Keywords: crop farming, herding, subsistence strategies, animal domestication, agricultural economy

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