Geographisches Institut


Agricultural Land Change and Implications for Food Security in Smallholder Agriculture Regions

Land use changes have enormous influence on both biophysical (e.g. biodiversity, climate change and ecosystem functions and services) and human systems (e.g. food, livelihood). Increasing evidence show that highly productive agricultural lands are increasingly lost as these are being converted to settlements and infrastructure in many regions of the world, whereas marginal lands are being cultivated. Moreover, areas of projected urban expansion intersect some of the world’s most productive croplands, particularly in Asia and Africa. There is a dearth of knowledge regarding agricultural land change in Africa and its implications for food security. Hence, the project concerns analysing changes in agricultural landscapes and quality of land in areas of agricultural displacement and gain. Using a social-ecological system framework, the research focuses on the interplay of land system change and the impacts on agricultural lands in largely smallholder agriculture regions in Africa, case study of Southwest Nigeria.


The aim is to identify continent-wide agricultural land transitions between year 2000 and 2018, examine influencing factors of these transitions and compare the productivity of lost croplands to those gained. Using the land cover categories (tree-covered area, grassland, cropland, wetland, artificial surfaces, otherland, and waterbody) corresponding to the land cover scheme of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, agricultural land transitions to and from agriculture to other land uses and exchanges between cropland and grassland is being analyzed for the entire continent. The project contributes to the understanding of agricultural land dynamics and efforts geared towards curbing the loss of productive agricultural lands, mostly due to urban expansion.

Project Details

Team: Dr. Felicia Akinyemi (Principal Investigator), Prof. Dr. Chinwe Ifejika Speranza (Co-Investigator)

Duration: 2020 - 2021

Funding: University of Bern, Switzerland. In the context of the Seal of Excellence Fund (SELF)

Contact: Dr. Felicia Akinyemi