A sweet deal? Sugarcane, water and agricultural transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa

T. M. Hess, J. Sumberg, T. Biggs, Matei Georgescu, D. Haro-Monteagudo, G. Jewitt, M. Ozdogan, M. Marshall, P. Thenkabail, A. Daccache, F. Marin, J. W. Knox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Globally, the area of sugarcane is rising rapidly in response to growing demands for bioethanol and increased sugar demand for human consumption. Despite considerable diversity in production systems and contexts, sugarcane is a particularly "high impact" crop with significant positive and negative environmental and socio-economic impacts. Our analysis is focused on Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), which is a critical region for continued expansion, due to its high production potential, low cost of production and proximity, and access, to European markets. Drawing on a systematic review of scientific evidence, combined with information from key informants, stakeholders and a research-industry workshop, we critically assess the impacts of sugarcane development on water, soil and air quality, employment, food security and human health. Our analysis shows that sugarcane production is, in general, neither explicitly good nor bad, sustainable nor unsustainable. The impacts of expansion of sugarcane production on the environment and society depend on the global political economy of sugar, local context, quality of scheme, nature of the production system and farm management. Despite threats from climate change and forthcoming changes in the trade relationship with the European Union, agricultural development policies are driving national and international interest and investment in sugarcane in SSA, with expansion likely to play an important role in sustainable development in the region. Our findings will help guide researchers and policy makers with new insights in understanding the situated environmental and social impacts associated with alternative sugar economy models, production technologies and qualities of management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-194
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Volume39
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Fingerprint

sugar
production system
water
social impact
environmental economics
agricultural development
political economy
food security
soil quality
economic impact
European Union
air quality
sustainable development
stakeholder
environmental impact
farm
water quality
crop
climate change
market

Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Development
  • Impact
  • Livelihoods
  • Sugar
  • Water resources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Global and Planetary Change

Cite this

A sweet deal? Sugarcane, water and agricultural transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa. / Hess, T. M.; Sumberg, J.; Biggs, T.; Georgescu, Matei; Haro-Monteagudo, D.; Jewitt, G.; Ozdogan, M.; Marshall, M.; Thenkabail, P.; Daccache, A.; Marin, F.; Knox, J. W.

In: Global Environmental Change, Vol. 39, 01.07.2016, p. 181-194.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hess, TM, Sumberg, J, Biggs, T, Georgescu, M, Haro-Monteagudo, D, Jewitt, G, Ozdogan, M, Marshall, M, Thenkabail, P, Daccache, A, Marin, F & Knox, JW 2016, 'A sweet deal? Sugarcane, water and agricultural transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa', Global Environmental Change, vol. 39, pp. 181-194. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2016.05.003
Hess, T. M. ; Sumberg, J. ; Biggs, T. ; Georgescu, Matei ; Haro-Monteagudo, D. ; Jewitt, G. ; Ozdogan, M. ; Marshall, M. ; Thenkabail, P. ; Daccache, A. ; Marin, F. ; Knox, J. W. / A sweet deal? Sugarcane, water and agricultural transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa. In: Global Environmental Change. 2016 ; Vol. 39. pp. 181-194.
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