Africa: The next breadbasket?

by Joel K Bourne

Using hand tools and draft animals, a family harvests wheat in Ethiopia’s famine-prone highlands. Education has helped small farmers become more efficient, but wheat yields are still a third below the world’s average. With more than a third of Ethiopians malnourished, the government is courting industrial farms to help close the gap. Photo: Robin Hammond/National Geographic

She never saw the big tractor coming. First it plowed up her banana trees. Then her corn. Then her beans, sweet potatoes, cassava. Within a few, dusty minutes the one-acre plot near Xai-Xai, Mozambique, which had fed Flora Chirime and her five children for years, was consumed by a Chinese corporation building a 50,000-acre farm, a green-and-brown checkerboard of fields covering a broad stretch of the Limpopo River Delta.