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Farmland fragmentation concourse: Analysis of scenarios and research gaps

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  • Ntihinyurwa, Pierre Damien
  • de Vries, Walter Timo

Abstract

The conceptualization of farmland fragmentation varies across different scientific disciplines and units of analysis. Although a large body of literature on this phenomenon exist, yet there is no comprehensive understanding about the underlying reasons behind this conceptual variety and how it affects the management of different fragmentation scenarios. Consequently, policy makers and research scholars are unable to devise suitable fragmentation management strategies, which leads to contradictory, irrelevant and inappropriate interventions. This study explicitly and comprehensively displays how and why the farmland fragmentation conceptualizations differ, and which derived scenarios exist. The goal is to develop the typology of fragmentation which can guide farmland fragmentation management decisions for food security. This guide connects to the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, notably SDGs 1,2,12,13 &15. The study draws on rationalist theory and adopts an integrative concept-centric qualitative approach which builds on the analysis of the existing body of multi-disciplinary literature on farmland fragmentation and on deductive logical reasoning to create new comprehensive scientific knowledge, as an informative guidance for future research and policies. The analysis revealed an ontological and epistemic variety of both the spatial units (such as plot, parcel, farm, and farmland or land block) and the social and physical characteristics which underlie the description of land fragmentation. Moreover, the study identified a diversity of land fragmentation forms falling into two categories of Physical and Tenure fragmentation, whose extent and measurements are determined by specific local conditions and vary from case to case. These can separately apply in practice in different land areas or coexist in the same area under a typology of 40 different fragmentation scenarios based on various mathematical combinations of its spatial and non-spatial desciptors at different levels (parcel,farm,land block). As land managers need to be aware of all farmland fragmentation scenarios, we posit that any farmland fragmentation management intervention is a combination of various spatial and non-spatial effectors in order to be responsible and sustainable. Therefore, since the management of farmland fragmentation varies from scenario to scenario, any attempt to control it should consider the understanding of all the possible scenarios in a given area (as have been identified in this study) as a precondition for action. This is relevant because it would allow to grasp the causes, impacts (positive and negative), the conditions determining the problematic and rational scenarios of farmland fragmentation, and their functional distinctiveness at different spatial levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Ntihinyurwa, Pierre Damien & de Vries, Walter Timo, 2021. "Farmland fragmentation concourse: Analysis of scenarios and research gaps," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 100(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:lauspo:v:100:y:2021:i:c:s0264837720301812
    DOI: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.104936
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    5. Yu, Peiheng & Fennell, Shailaja & Chen, Yiyun & Liu, Hui & Xu, Lu & Pan, Jiawei & Bai, Shaoyun & Gu, Shixiang, 2022. "Positive impacts of farmland fragmentation on agricultural production efficiency in Qilu Lake watershed: Implications for appropriate scale management," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 117(C).
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