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Mineral industries, growth corridors and agricultural development in Africa
- Weng, Lingfei, Boedhihartono, Agni Klintuni, Dirks, Paul H.G.M., Dixon, John, Lubis, Muhammad Irfansyah, Sayer, Jeffrey A.
- Global food security 2013 v.2 no.3 pp. 195-202
- Brachystegia, agricultural development, basins, cities, coal, crops, floodplains, food security, foods, governance, hinterland, industry, iron, irrigated farming, land use, market access, minerals, poverty, railroads, rain forests, rivers, roads, savannas, tropical plants, Guinea
- An extractive industries boom in Africa is driving unprecedented expansion of infrastructure into sparsely populated regions. Much of the investment is in high-volume minerals such as iron and coal that will require heavy infrastructure and large settled workforces. New roads and railways are being built to support these industries. Mineral infrastructure is reinforcing the dynamic of designated “growth corridors”, which are increasingly determining settlement patterns and rural land use in Africa. These corridors are penetrating into areas where agriculture has been constrained by lack of access to markets. They could unleash a major expansion of arable crops in the Guinea and Miombo savannahs, tropical tree crops in Congo Basin rainforests and irrigated agriculture on the floodplains of several African river systems. Rapidly growing African cities are largely dependent on imported food but growth corridors linking them to hinterland areas could favour shifts to African-sourced foods. Governance weaknesses may allow outside investors to make land grabs along growth corridors and further marginalise poor smallholders. New pressures on environmentally sensitive areas may emerge. Policy changes are needed to avoid negative impacts of this major new development trend and to exploit the potential for poverty alleviation and food-security benefits.