Land degradation and the upper hand of sustainable agricultural intensification in sub-Saharan Africa - A systematic review

Meron Lakew Tefera, Alberto Carletti, Laura Altea, Margherita Rizzu, Quirico Migheli, Giovanna Seddaiu


Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) faces severe land degradation, driven by a combination of human and natural factors. Deforestation, inadequate land management practices, and unsustainable farming methods are the primary causes. The historical trends reveal the impact of soil erosion and nutrient depletion on 70% of the soil and 65% of its total land area. Unchecked degradation poses a critical threat to economic growth and poverty reduction initiatives. The region's food security is intricately linked to the complex interplay between land degradation and a rapidly growing population. Escalating demand for agricultural resources raises concerns about the ability to meet the needs of SSA's population. The adoption of sustainable agricultural intensification practices (SIAP) emerges as a crucial strategy to address land degradation and enhance food security. SIAP involves innovative and ecologically sensitive techniques, such as agroforestry and organic farming, targeting to optimise resource use and minimise negative impacts on soil health. The interconnectedness between factors of land degradation, food security, and the contribution of SIAP underscores the urgency of adopting sustainable practices to ensure a balanced relationship between agricultural productivity and environmental conservation in SSA. While SIAP holds promise, challenges such as socio-economic barriers, low adoption rates, and contextual variations necessitate continuous support and well-designed policies for successful implementation.


Agriculture, Food security, Poverty, Soil erosion, Sustainable land management

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