An Investigation into the Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Fallow Land and the Underlying Causes in Southcentral Zimbabwe

Emmanuel Manzungu, Linda Mtali


The purpose of the study was to assess the spatial and temporal distribution of fallow land in Zimbabwean communal lands and the underlying causes against a backdrop of reports of an increasing proportion of agricultural land being left fallow, which has also been reported in other parts of Africa. Chivi district, that is located in the south central part of the country, was used as a case study. Landsat images complemented by field assessments were used to assess changes in fallow land between 1984 and 2010. Standard soil and social science analysis methods were used to assess the likely biophysical and/ or socio-economic causes. The proportion of fallow land was found to increase up to 51.5% during the period, mainly because of socio-economic rather than biophysical factors. Draught power shortage was ranked as the major cause (34%) followed by labor shortage (24%), lack of inputs (22%), and poor soil fertility (16%). Drought was ranked lowest at 4%. Fallow land was mainly used for grazing, which however was of poor quality. The paper concludes that the problem of agricultural land being left fallow land can be solved by seeking alternative land uses other than cropping.

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Journal of Geography and Geology   ISSN 1916-9779 (Print)   ISSN 1916-9787 (Online)  Email:

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