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University of Manitoba (2010)

Economic Diversification and Prospects for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods In a Dryland Agrarian Village : A Case in Bijapur District Karnataka, India

Wilson Brenda K.

Titre : Economic Diversification and Prospects for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods In a Dryland Agrarian Village : A Case in Bijapur District Karnataka, India

Auteur : Wilson Brenda K.

Université de soutenance : University of Manitoba

Grade : Master of Natural Resources Mangement (MNRM) 2010

Résumé partiel
India is among the world’s fastest growing economies, but the Indian agriculture sector is still the largest source of employment in rural areas. Concerns regarding the weakened agrarian sector, ominous population growth, and intensified pressure on the natural resources base have prompted the Indian government to seek strategies that will boost agricultural productivity, reduce poverty, and improve the socioeconomic conditions of farmers. However, in the new paradigm for agricultural development, strategies must incorporate plans for sustainable solutions thereby closely linking goals of environmental sustainability with social and economic goals for present and future generations. Indeed, a shift in thinking has markedly evolved to such an approach with the holistic and people-centric concept of sustainable livelihoods. Sustainable livelihood approaches encompass the notion that initiatives must build on people’s assets, knowledge, and capacities, which can be understood within their local context. Economic diversification is recognized by the Indian government as a poverty reduction strategy for improving socioeconomic conditions of poor farmers and stabilizing agrarian village economies by promoting households to engage in alternative choices in the farm and nonfarm labor market for income sourced from diversified sources. The underlying rationale for diversification is that the adoption of new income-generating activities might reduce farmers’ vulnerability when crops fail and improve livelihoods by reducing dependency on migration and external support for subsistence. This research then, takes top-down ideas for economic diversification into an agrarian village for a bottom-up perspective from the rural poor for a consideration of prospective diversification strategies as sustainable livelihood alternatives. Relying on methods drawn from Participatory Rural Appraisal and Rapid Rural Appraisal such as participant observation, mini-questionnaires, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, secondary data sources, and mapping, the study explored the following objectives : (1) to explore the local context and livelihoods of poor and landless farmers ; (2) to understand the characteristics of the local agricultural production environment ; (3) to identify farm activities, from the farmers’ perspective, that might help or hinder agricultural productivity and long-term sustainability ; (4) to share and explore prospective diversification activities with farmers ; and (5) to consider the feasibility and sustainability of favored diversification activities discussed, given the local context.

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