Ecosystem health and sustainable agricultural development in Ihemi cluster

Agricultural landscape provide a range of ecosystem services apart from producing crops. However, the inter-linkage of the ecosystem services and agricultural activities is poorly understood. For over 50 years, agriculture has been conducted without considering the natural ecological processes that safeguard agricultural production in the long run. To ensure that agricultural systems are sustainable, we have to make sure that the crucial ecosystem functions in the natural landscape are protected. Agricultural intensification, dramatic land use changes, application of agrochemicals and intensification of resource utilization are among the factors contributing towards biodiversity loss. The process of agricultural intensification is associated with an increase in labour inputs, increase use of natural and artificial fertilizer, use of improved seeds, change in technologies, change in agricultural mechanization & frequency of cultivation, changes to the landscape such as irrigation or soil conservation measures. The agricultural inputs, for instance, have altered the key-hydrological processes of rivers, lakes, floodplains and groundwater-fed wetlands, damaging their ecosystems and services that they provide. Agricultural intensification affects large parts of terrestrial area, therefore, assessment of its contribution to biodiversity loss is critical for successful conservation in the future. Irrigation, clearance of natural vegetation, and the construction of water storage facilities have all altered the timing and natural variability of water flows, damaging ground water recharge and wetland areas. It is claimed that agriculture in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) is developed in harmony with the natural