Sunday, 18 October 2015

Link Pack | Livelihoods and farming

Over the past seven years, I have been working in and researching rural areas. I have helped build water storage tanks, and sown medicinal plants with women's Self Help Groups in Himachal Pradesh. I have trained farmers in Arunachal to expand their use of wetlands to ecotourism, and examined why young Rajasthani men are opening mobile phone shops in their village and not farming. In my own village in western Uttar Pradesh, I have discussed why young boys are leaving to work as masseurs in Bombay. And I am still flummoxed by a question which started it all
Why is agriculture no longer seen as a viable livelihood? 
From research in the high-altitude Himalayas to villages in semi-arid Karnataka, the narrative of youngsters moving out of agriculture is repeated again and again. These youth are often educated: enough to dissuade them from farming, but not enough for them to actively compete with city kids. While the non-viability of farming as a livelihood is pushing such youth out of our villages and small towns, our cities are not equipped to absorb them and help meet their aspirations and goals. Development policies still bifurcate the rural and urban into an artificial dichotomy; research has only started conceptualising the rural urban continuum. But India's development trajectory is fast blurring these divisions: villages are morphing into messy towns while tier three cities are burgeoning into larger urban centres. To understand these transitions, a livelihoods lens is one way to disentangle the messiness and complexity of changing aspirations, dynamic risk and uncertainty, and securing a life that is clean, safe, and meaningful.

From around the web:
  • What do farmers really need? A blog I wrote on HuffPost India that uses field research in Karnataka to tease out why farming in rainfed areas has become so challenging. The original title was 'Are Agricultural Livelihoods becoming more non-viable" but I guess it wasn't seen as racy enough by the editors.  
  • Why livelihoods perspectives still matter: Prof Ian Scoones, proposer of the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework, and more importantly the person who nicknamed me Chutney Singh (!) has written a book on Sustainable Livelihoods and Rural Development. In this, he argues that political economy and issues around power and knowledge production are critical for agrarian and environmental research. This goes on my must read list!
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