Tuesday, June 10, 2008

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With 91 per cent of its people living in rural areas, Burundi is one of the most rural nations in Africa. It is also the second most densely populated. Approximately 90 per cent of the work force relies on agriculture, the vast majority being subsistence farmers. Some of the most intense agriculture in Burundi surrounds the growing capital of Bujumbura.

A comparison of 1979 and 2000 satellite images shows the expansion of agriculture around the capital. The high-resolution satellite image (below) shows the interface between the southeast edge of the city and surrounding farms.

Adequate rainfall and good soils have historically made Burundi self-sufficient in food production. However, many areas in Burundi are considered unfit for cultivation. Scarcity of land will continue to put pressure on farmers to cultivate unsuitable lands. Burundi's domesticated land use has been measured at 86 per cent; a country is generally considered to be "land scarce" when 70 per cent or more of its land is used. Better agricultural practices could improve productivity and might relieve some of the pressure to convert additional unsuitable land to agriculture.
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