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APRA Working Paper Series

Agricultural Growth Corridors on the Eastern Seaboard of Africa: an Overview

Published on 1 September 2017

This Working Paper describes and critically reviews the recent emergence of agricultural growth corridors and other types of corridor with a prominent agricultural component. It offers a descriptive overview and poses some political economy questions. It focuses on four projects on the eastern seaboard of Africa: the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT); the Beira Agricultural Growth Corridor (BAGC); the Nacala development corridor in Mozambique; and the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor based in Kenya. It identifies three major influences on the current popularity of corridors: the evolution of logistics corridors into tools of development policy; new thinking among donors on infrastructure, agriculture and the role of private sector development; and the needs of private sector actors for investment to support production and secure their supply chains in a globalised world. The paper notes some key differences between the four corridors, which include that agriculture was more central to the original design of SAGCOT and BAGC than the Nacala and LAPSSET corridors. It also notes some similarities, such as the observation that all four aim to use infrastructure to leverage investment in agriculture and support commercially oriented producers to supply globalised markets. It finds that the primary drivers of corridor developments are not usually domestic governments but rather coalitions of private sector actors who have been able to align their commercial ambitions with mainstream ideas on infrastructure and agriculture among donors and the international development community. Some actors are involved in more than one of the corridor developments. However, the way that public and private interests interact with each other and with local stakeholders is specific to each project, and specific narratives have been used to legitimise the corridors in each context. This has led to some unexpected ruptures in relationships between project partners and spaces for resistance, especially with Nacala and LAPSSET. While project outcomes are just beginning to be documented, the paper raises some preliminary concerns over infringement of land rights, exclusion of some farmers and herders, and failure to articulate how corridors will address the causes of low productivity, poverty and food insecurity in rural areas.

Cite this publication

Smalley, R. (2017) ‘Agricultural Growth Corridors on the Eastern Seaboard of Africa: an Overview’ APRA Working Paper 1, Future Agricultures Consortium

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