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Farmland Fragmentation, Farmland Consolidation and Food Security: Relationships, Research Lapses and Future Perspectives

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  • Pierre Damien Ntihinyurwa

    (Chair of Land Management, Department of Aerospace and Geodesy, Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), Arcisstrasse 21, 80333 Munich, Germany)

  • Walter Timo de Vries

    (Chair of Land Management, Department of Aerospace and Geodesy, Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), Arcisstrasse 21, 80333 Munich, Germany)

Abstract

Farmland fragmentation and farmland consolidation are two sides of the same coin paradoxically viewed as farmland management tools. While there is a vast body of literature addressing the connections between farmland fragmentation and farmland consolidation on the one hand and agriculture production and crops diversification on the other hand, their relationship with variations in food security is still under-explored. This challenges policy makers about whether and how to devise policies in favor of fragmentation conservation or defragmentation. Therefore, drawing on the multiple secondary data and the deductive logical reasoning through an integrative concept-centric qualitative approach following the rationalist theory, this study critically reviews and analyses the existing body of literature to identify how farmland fragmentation versus defragmentation approaches relate to food security. The goal is to develop and derive an explicit model indicating when, where, how and why farmland fragmentation can be conserved or prevented and controlled for food security motives as a novel alternative comprehensive scientific knowledge generation, which could guide and inform the design of future research and policies about farmland fragmentation management. The findings show that both fragmentation and consolidation variously (positively and negatively) impact on food security at different (macro, meso and micro) levels. While farmland fragmentation is highly linked with food diversification (food quality), acceptability, accessibility, and sovereignty at the local (household and individual) levels, farmland consolidation is often associated with the quantity and availability of food production at the community, regional and national levels. Theoretically, the best management of farmland fragmentation for food security purposes can be achieved by minimizing the problems associated with physical and tenure aspects of farmland fragmentation along with the optimization of its potential benefits. In this regard, farmland consolidation, voluntary parcel exchange and on-field harvest sales, farmland realignment, and farmland use (crop) consolidation can be suitable for the control of physical fragmentation problems under various local conditions. Similarly, farmland banking and off-farm employment, restrictions about the minimum parcel sizes subdivision and absentee owners, joint ownership, cooperative farming, farmland use (crop) consolidation, agricultural land protection policies, and family planning measures can be suitable to prevent and minimize farmland tenure fragmentation problems. On the other hand, various agriculture intensification programs, agroecogical approaches, and land saving technologies can be the most suitable strategies to maximize the income from agriculture on fragmented plots under the circumstances of beneficial fragmentation. Moreover, in areas where both rational and defective fragmentation scenarios coexist, different specific strategies like localized and multicropping based land consolidation approaches in combination with or without agriculture intensification programs, can provide better and more balanced optimal solutions. These could simultaneously minimize the defective effects of fragmentation thereby optimizing or without jeopardizing its potential benefits with regard to food security under specific local conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Damien Ntihinyurwa & Walter Timo de Vries, 2021. "Farmland Fragmentation, Farmland Consolidation and Food Security: Relationships, Research Lapses and Future Perspectives," Land, MDPI, vol. 10(2), pages 1-39, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jlands:v:10:y:2021:i:2:p:129-:d:489492
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