Corridors, clusters, and spatial development initiatives in African agriculture


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    ISPC, NEPAD and ECDPM stimulated discussion between agricultural researchers and corridor stakeholders on their contributions to inclusive and sustainable development. Spatial development initiatives (SDI), including corridors, aim to coordinate and concentrate investment on transport infrastructure (typically building new roads or upgrading existing ones, often related to access for exploiting mineral resources – and accompanying logistic infrastructure (transport services, storage capacity, agricultural extension services – i.e. soft infrastructure. The cooperation among institutions required to coordinate such efforts involves the national governments of the countries concerned, the private sector, international donors, development institutions and researchers. Corridors are becoming priorities in developing countries, as governments and aid agencies are investing heavily in them to try and facilitate dynamism in rural areas. FAO has recently carried out a comparative analysis to establish a corridor typology, to identify the main drivers and components of corridors and to develop policy decision support tools and checklists. A large part of this cross-comparison focuses on the agricultural component of corridor interventions, identifying the most recurrent activities under this component, the financial resources involved, the most often selected subsectors or value chains and target markets, the interface between infrastructure and agro-industrial development and the positive or negative impacts of corridor interventions on the agricultural sector. Growth corridor initiatives like the SAGCOT in Tanzania sometimes spur heated debate. On the one hand, corridors can attract and direct public and private investment towards a sustainable increase in production and income; on the other, corridors are accused of imposing a model that encourages land grabbing, mono-cropping and exclusion of small scale farmers and entrepreneurs. Which one of these visions reflects realitymost accurately, remains unclear. The debate is not helped by a lack of undisputed evidence. The workshop brought together some of the key institutions and researchers that are active on this topic both from within and outside the CGIAR, with the objectives of understanding the current state of thinking in research and policy circles, and to help define how best the ISPC might contribute through its strategic study on corridors and spatial development initiatives in African Agriculture. Read the full workshop report:
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