Climate-Smart Agriculture, Cropland Expansion, and Deforestation in Zambia: Linkages, Processes, and Drivers

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January 6, 2020 - Author: Hambulo Ngoma, Johanne Pelletier, Brian P Mulenga, and Mitelo Subakanya

Hambulo Ngoma, Johanne Pelletier, Brian P Mulenga, and Mitelo Subakanya, 2019. Climate-Smart Agriculture, Cropland Expansion, and Deforestation in Zambia: Linkages, Processes, and Drivers, FSP Policy Brief 111, East Lansing: Michigan State University.

Key Findings

  • Between 167,000 and 300,000 hectares of forest are lost every year in Zambia, and different polices are in place or have been proposed to contain forest loss.
  • Agriculture land expansion is one of the major drivers of deforestation, yet increasing agricultural production is necessary to feed a growing population and meet changing diets.
  • This paper assesses the extent of cropland expansion among smallholder farmers and whether or not climate smart agriculture (CSA) can help reduce expansion and deforestation.
  • About 21 percent of rural farm households interviewed in RALS 2019 expanded cropland between the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 farming seasons, clearing on average 0.18 ha, but only 13 percent of rural smallholders expanded their cropland into forests, clearing an average of 0.10 ha of forestland per household.
  • Smallholder cropland expansion into forests represents about 60 percent of the average 250,000 ha of forests lost per year in Zambia.
  • Most households expanded cropland because of the need to meet subsistence food needs and a few others in response to market opportunities.
  • Much of the cropland expansion among smallholder farmers is concentrated in Luapula, Muchinga, Northern, North-Western, and Western provinces.
  • Using CSA had no statistically significant effects on cropland expansion in our sample, indicating that CSA alone might not avert expansion-led deforestation.
  • Thus, CSA-led intensification alone might not reduce deforestation unless if complemented with improved forest management policies.

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Tags: agrifood system transformation, c1-c2, climate change, food security group, fsg policy brief, fsp policy brief, innovation lab for food security policy, input use and market development, land, zambia

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