Agricultural growth corridors: Mapping potential research gaps on impact, implementation and institutions


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    Growth corridor strategies are increasingly invoked to coordinate public and private investment around infrastructure backbones in Africa and developing countries. Investments in ‘soft’ and ’hard’ infrastructure to promote investment in e.g. processing zones or out-grower schemes and facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue aim to overcome coordination failures and bottlenecks related to market linkages or producer-relations to secure supply chains etc. Corridors and other spatial development initiatives (SDIs) have this coordination potential within or between countries and regions, but also between industries, farmers, people and firms. Boosters expect these coordinated investments to catalyze Africa’s agricultural transformation. Corridors vary in their geographical scope, their objectives and underlying drivers. At their simplest level they connect ports and thus international trade flows to surrounding hinterlands, sometimes across borders, taking on a regional dimension. The corridors approach is also evolving, ranging in objectives from transport and logistics corridors linking landlocked countries or regions and ports, for example the Trans-Kalahari Corridor, the Northern Corridor in Kenya, or the Abidjan Ouagadougou Corridor; to so-called development corridors, embodying a wider range of additional development objectives and accompanying investments around the central infrastructure, for example the Maputo Development Corridor. Agricultural growth corridors, endorsed by the World Economic Forum in 2008 and a key part of the Malabo Declaration that Africa’s Heads of State committed to in 2015, aim to catalyze agricultural development in particular through infrastructure and market linkages. On the one hand this means increasing investments in agriculture, raising production, productivity and employment and linking African agriculture to regional and global markets. On the other, critics point to risks of land and water grabbing and negative effects of corridor development on natural resources and livelihoods, particularly in the contexts of weak institutions and unclear or unenforced land and resource rights. Price effects will create winners and losers in the short and long-term.
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