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Rachel Au 5Y (1)

April 2015
Ch.5 Famine
Describe the farming technology employed by farmers in southern California in
overcoming the constraint of insufficient rainfall. Can such modern technology
be transferred to the farming areas in the Sahel to overcome the problem of
drought and alleviate the problem of food shortages? Why?
The climate of an area may pose difficulties in farming for any area, but
developed countries are able to use modern technologies to overcome
problems. In the southern Californian agricultural sector, the constraint of
insufficient rainfall is overcome by various modern technological methods.
However, such methods may not be suitable for less developed countries to
overcome similar problems.
The majority of southern California has a Mediterranean climate, where there is
little rainfall and temperatures are high. Most farmland in southern California is
located inland, where it is even drier than coastal areas. Wet winds from the
Pacific Ocean lose their moisture after passing coastal mountains, and by the
time the winds reach inland areas, most moisture is lost. Therefore, most
farmland in southern California receives little rainfall.
The lack of rainfall results in high evaporation rates, which bring soil beneath
the soil to the surface. Hence, most soils in southern Californian farmland are
alkaline and infertile.
To overcome this constraint, farmers in southern California have adopted various
modern farming methods.
Firstly, irrigation farming is highly prevalent in southern California. To overcome
the lack of water for growing crops, there have been large-scale constructions of
various water schemes to provide irrigation water to dry areas. Large dams have
been built to store water, which is transported to farms by canals and
aqueducts. To ensure a reliable water source for farmland, irrigation methods
are used, eg. the gravity flow system, the sprinkler system, and the drip
irrigation system.
To overcome the problem of infertile soil, chemical fertilizers have been used to
improve soil fertility and increase productivity. This method reduces crop failure,
improves crop quality, and ensures a high yield per unit of land.
These methods are all of high technology, and require large sums of capital and
high levels of research and development.
Despite the benefits the aforementioned methods can bring, such modern
technology is unsuitable for overcoming the problems of drought and alleviating
food shortages in the Sahel.
Firstly, there are no large rivers in the Sahel, making it difficult to develop
efficient irrigation systems. To construct canals and aqueducts to transport
water into inland regions would be near impossible, unless sky-high amounts of

capital is allocated to such a measure. Advanced irrigation systems such as drip

irrigation systems are very costly as well. As countries along the Sahel are poor,
it would be impossible for this measure to be feasible there.
Secondly, people living in the Sahel are poor and have little money to devote to
research and development of modern agricultural technology, such as irrigation
systems and chemical fertilizers. Such modern technologies also demand high
capital investment for implementation. Governments cannot afford to conduct
research on modern farming technology, and farmers themselves cannot afford
to use such technology.
Thirdly, farmers in the Sahel are generally of low education level. They do not
posses the knowledge to use modern farming technology such as advanced
irrigation systems and chemical fertilizers. Their methods of farming are
traditional, and they will not know how to adopt advanced ways. Therefore,
modern farming technology is not suitable for such farmers to use.
In conclusion, the advanced farming technology used in southern California
cannot be transferred to the Sahel to overcome the problems of drought and
alleviate food shortages because the Sahel has an unfavorable location factor,
and lacks the money and knowledge to use such technology.