Abstract for: Explaining the complex drivers of land abandonment of horticultural family farms in Senegal

In the northern coastal region in Senegal, called the Niayes region, vegetable producers face increasing water stress. This has initiated a poverty trap of family farms without the means to adapt to decreasing water levels. As a result, family farms start to abandon their land. This process is further driven by a multitude of complex interacting driving forces. At the same time, wealthier and more developed family farms, as well as larger industrialized corporate farms find themselves in a virtuous growth cycle. They have the necessary means to invest in motorized pumps and adapt to decreasing water levels. These dynamics create injustices between the different types of farmers. Moreover, a “water race to the bottom” among wealthier farmers has begun, which creates the risk of overexploitation of water and an overshoot-and-collapse behavior of the vegetable production in the region. This article presents results of participatory group model build workshops, which includes a dynamic hypothesis and potential policy options. Furthermore, the article shows first results of the base run simulation of a quantitative system dynamics model. This model aims on the one hand to explain these emerging injustices and the land abandonment of family farms, and on the other hand to find solutions for a more sustainable and just vegetable sector.