Small farmers dominate agriculture in developing countries, and many governments and institutions have invested heavily in improving the productivity and sustainability of smallholder farming. However, the growth in export markets, especially to China, poses both risks and opportunities to smallholder farmer livelihoods and conservation. Commercial farming is poised to move into large geographies where proposals exist for significant investment in infrastructure “corridors”. One such corridor is the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) linking eastern Zambia and the interior of Tanzania to the Indian Ocean.
The development of the SAGCOT corridor, and others like it, could significantly change the economics of farming at all scales and over a large area. This could result in a concentration of land tenure, habitat conversion, the expulsion of smallholders, and the displacement of a moderately diverse production system by large-scale monoculture.
This SNAP Working Group will address smart planning for sustainable agriculture intensification in the SAGCOT corridor. The development of the SAGCOT corridor is at an early stage of implementation presenting the opportunity to demonstrate to policymakers, planners, and potential investors what sustainable intensification might look like on the ground – with better market access improving agricultural livelihoods while good planning and responsible investment maintains the ecosystem services provided by healthy soils, water, and natural habitat. The Working Group will: 1) map the critical geographies within the corridor where agriculture intensification is most viable; 2) prepare a cost-benefit analysis for development and ecosystem services; 3) identify investment alternatives and priorities in the context of climate change; and, 4) outline alternative scenarios for sustainable intensification within the critical geographies.
This project is supported by the Science for Nature and People (SNAP) initiative, generously funded through founding grants by Shirley and Harry Hagey, Steve and Roberta Denning, Seth Neiman, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.