Teaching Students About African Crops


Africa is a continent rich in culture, history, and geography. Often overlooked, however, is its agricultural heritage, which has played a significant role in shaping African societies. Given the immense cultural and environmental diversity of the continent, teaching students about African crops can be an enlightening and engaging way to introduce them to an often-ignored aspect of African history and everyday life. In this article, we will explore some key crops that have shaped Africa and provide tips and resources for bringing these lessons into the classroom.

Key African Crops

1. Sorghum: Sorghum is one of the most important staple crops in Africa, particularly in the arid regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Characterized by its tolerance to drought and rainfall variability, sorghum has been a lifeline for communities facing unpredictable weather patterns. As a versatile crop, it has various uses including food, fodder, and biofuel production.

2. Millets: Another drought-resistant crop is millet, which includes several species such as pearl millet and finger millet. Millets have been cultivated for thousands of years in Africa and are highly nutritious. Today they continue to play a critical role in providing food security for millions of people across the continent.

3. Teff: Native to Ethiopia, teff is a small grain prized for its high nutritional value and gluten-free properties. It’s most commonly used to make injera – the traditional Ethiopian sourdough flatbread – but also serves as an ingredient in countless recipes across Africa.

4. Cassava: Cassava is a tuberous root crop that grew to prominence due to its ability to grow in poor soils under varied climatic conditions. It has become one of the primary sources of calories for many African communities while also being utilized as animal feed and raw material for industrial purposes.

5. Yams: Yams are another significant tuber crop in Africa, especially in West Africa. Yams are a staple food for millions of people, and their cultivation plays a pivotal role in social and cultural practices, such as rituals and festivals.

Incorporating African Crops into the Classroom

1. Online Resources: The internet offers a wealth of information about African crops. Use this information to educate students about the crops’ origin, history, nutritional value, and socioeconomic impact. Websites such as FAO.org provide resources that can be downloaded and shared in the classroom.

2. Visual Aids: Images and videos can help students visualize and better understand the agricultural practices used to grow these crops. You might consider taking a virtual field trip using Google Earth or another interactive mapping application to explore different regions of Africa.

3. Hands-On Activities: Integrate practical learning experiences into your curriculum by growing African plants, either in your classroom or school garden. If space is limited, container gardening can be an effective alternative.

4. Cooking Demonstrations: Showcase the culinary aspects of these unique crops by preparing traditional recipes with your students. In this way, students can not only learn about these crops but also experience their taste and texture.

5. Multidisciplinary Learning: Connect agricultural lessons to other subjects like history, geography, economics, and art by discussing trade routes, cultural exchanges, environmental influences on crop production, and artistic depictions of African agriculture.


Teaching students about African crops helps them gain a deeper understanding of Africa’s rich agricultural heritage while promoting cultural awareness and global understanding. By incorporating these lessons into your curriculum through engaging activities and educational resources, you can foster an appreciation for the diverse crops that have shaped the continent’s history and culture for thousands of years.

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