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J Environ Manage. 2018 May 1;213:79-89. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.02.019. Epub 2018 Feb 23.

How do large-scale agricultural investments affect land use and the environment on the western slopes of Mount Kenya? Empirical evidence based on small-scale farmers' perceptions and remote sensing.

Author information

1
Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Hallerstrasse 10, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland. Electronic address: julie.zaehringer@cde.unibe.ch.
2
Centre for Training and Integrated Research in ASAL Development, Nanyuki, Kenya. Electronic address: g.wambugu@cetrad.org.
3
Centre for Training and Integrated Research in ASAL Development, Nanyuki, Kenya. Electronic address: b.kiteme@africaonline.co.ke.
4
Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Hallerstrasse 10, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland. Electronic address: sandra.eckert@cde.unibe.ch.

Abstract

Africa has been heavily targeted by large-scale agricultural investments (LAIs) throughout the last decade, with scarcely known impacts on local social-ecological systems. In Kenya, a large number of LAIs were made in the region northwest of Mount Kenya. These large-scale farms produce vegetables and flowers mainly for European markets. However, land use in the region remains dominated by small-scale crop and livestock farms with less than 1 ha of land each, who produce both for their own subsistence and for the local markets. We interviewed 100 small-scale farmers living near five different LAIs to elicit their perceptions of the impacts that these LAIs have on their land use and the overall environment. Furthermore, we analyzed remotely sensed land cover and land use data to assess land use change in the vicinity of the five LAIs. While land use change did not follow a clear trend, a number of small-scale farmers did adapt their crop management to environmental changes such as a reduced river water flows and increased pests, which they attributed to the presence of LAIs. Despite the high number of open conflicts between small-scale land users and LAIs around the issue of river water abstraction, the main environmental impact, felt by almost half of the interviewed land users, was air pollution with agrochemicals sprayed on the LAIs' land. Even though only a low percentage of local land users and their household members were directly involved with LAIs, a large majority of respondents favored the presence of LAIs nearby, as they are believed to contribute to the region's overall economic development.

KEYWORDS:

Laikipia County; Land use change; Large-scale agricultural investments; Social-ecological systems; Spillovers

PMID:
29477853
DOI:
10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.02.019
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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