Deforestation of woodlands in communal areas of Zimbabwe: is it due to agricultural policies?

Deforestation of woodlands in communal areas of Zimbabwe: is it due to agricultural policies?

Deforestation and woodland degradation are issues of great concern in Zimbabwe. Debate on these issues has identified a number of causes including expansion of arable land, demand for fuel-wood and construction poles, and urban expansion. This paper examined how some policies aimed at improving agricultural production may be contributing to deforestation of woodlands in the communal and resettlement areas of Zimbabwe. Consideration was given to crops with appreciable land area in 1980-90; maize (Zea mays L.), cotton (Gosspium hirsutum L.) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). Regression analysis indicated that policies that improved marketing of grains, provision of credit (largely in form of farm inputs) and extension services, encouraged expansion of land under maize and less so under cotton. High nominal prices encouraged expansion of area under maize while decreasing real prices of cotton, if not reserved, had potential for reducing land under cotton. Increased fertiliser prices, through removal of subsidies as required by structural adjustment policies, had potential for reducing land under maize and sunflower. The driving force for sunflower and cotton production was partly based on the desire, by farmers, for non-declining revenues in successive years. During the same period, real producer prices for these crops were declining and demand for cash was increasing rapidly. The evaluated agricultural policies may have been responsible for moderate expansion of land area under maize but more significant expansion of land under cotton and sunflower. These policies could have encouraged modest deforestation of woodlands in the Zimbabwean communal and resettlement areas in the period 1980-1995.

Authors: Chipika, J.T.; Kowero, G.

Topic: deforestation,land use,woodlands,crop production,agricultural policy,cotton,maize,sunflowers,prices

Geographic: Zimbabwe

Publication Year: 2000

ISSN: 0167-8809

Source: Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 79: 175-185


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