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Fighting climate-change induced agro-ecological rift and promoting livelihood security for the poor in fragile dry lands of rural Rajasthan Sunil Ray Introduction While climate change has an undeniably devastating effect on the livelihood security of the poor in dry land agriculture, one must not be oblivious that there are other factors that perpetually go against it. For instance, distortions in the credit, product and labor markets are some of them that never allow them to get out of vulnerability trap of food insecurity. Without trivializing such an unchanged socio-economic context, it may be arguably true that climate change aggravates food insecurity of the poor. The present engagement is to gain a deeper understanding as to how have dry land poverty (poverty in terms of livelihood insecurity) aggravated over the years in Rajasthan and how innovative are the steps taken to ameliorate such conditions of livings. The fear regarding intensification of food insecurity of the dry land poor is based on the Fourth Assessment Report of IPCC that claims that climate change will push the geography of food insecurity to the dry land regions (Chhetri and Easterling 2008). ‘Autonomous adaptation’ of the poor to the climate variability that a dry land normally witnesses for livelihood security is not as effectual as it used to be in the past. For, it was an adaptation to a certain range of climate variability. Now that the variability has surpassed that range due to the rise of the mean global surface temperature, its immediate fall-out is discernable in further shrinkage of space within the same ecology that provides livelihood to the poor. The degeneration of the dry land eco-system in the wake of climate change aggravates livelihood crisis of the poor in several ways. First, there are certain inherent limitations of the geo-physical conditions of dry land that never allow agriculture to perform beyond a limit. For instance, soil in dry land is sandy and shallow that reduces its water holding capacity. This makes it difficult to deal with the detrimental effects of erratic and limited precipitation (Chhetri and Easterling 2008). While climate change turns dry land to get drier further, it stimulates evaporation of surface water leading to result in salanisation of the soil that, in turn, limits the capacity of the farmers to produce. (IAASTD 2009). Hence, to whatever extent options are available with the dry land agriculture for livelihood generation, they tend to shrink leading to result in deepening of poverty.
It implies that the productive capacity of the dry land ecosystem of Rajasthan has declined below the minimum tolerable level due to climate change, as a consequent to which ecological services have ceased to ensure sustainable livelihood of the poor. This seems to be particularly true in respect of agriculture that has witnessed erosion in its production conditions due to what one calls ‘agro-ecological rift’. It is in this context that the paper seeks to examine how such a rift induced by climate change has left the poor more livelihood insecure in the state and how innovative are the steps (environmental governance) taken by the government and other agencies to appropriately address the problems of their livelihood insecurity. The paper is organized in the following way. The first part of the paper contextualizes the problem and attempts to briefly trace the changing agro-ecological scenario, the state witnessed during the last two decade at the macro-level. It overviews how the dry land poor became increasingly more vulnerable to poverty due to climate change and examines the response of the government to the criticalities of their sustainable livelihood. The second part examines, based on the case study of two villages, how the villagers have been fighting against agro-ecological rift induced and aggravated by the climate change in order to ensure sustainable livelihood. In this part, coping mechanisms that are followed by the poor and vulnerable for the redressal of livelihood crisis are examined. The third part of the paper makes a few suggestions and concludes. I Livelihood insecurity in Rajasthan If livelihood comprises peoples’ capabilities and their means of living (Krishnaraj 2006), there is no doubt that the poor who lives in dry land agriculture of Rajasthan were pushed to deep livelihood insecurity. The means of living that must endure over time meaning thereby not clinging to one particular mode of earning for survival dried up to a considerable extent for the dry land poor in the state due to lack of availability of choice (Ray 2008). The declining agricultural performance to the minimum due to repeated drought accompanied by stagnant decentralized non-farm sector reduced the space for employment and income generation of the poor to a great extent (Ray 2008). The contribution of agriculture to NSDP was 54.57 per cent in 1978-79, declined to 45.07 per cent in 190-91 and then became 26.32 per cent in 2004-05. (Ray 2008) The poor were left with a limited choice that exemplified adaptation strategies that were devised alternatively
to ensure their mere survival.
These strategies included mixed cropping, animal
husbandry, multiple occupations and short term out- migration (Acharya and Vidyasagar 2007). There are several instances that show how farmers irrespective of whether they were poor or rich, treated livestock reproduction as a major adaptive strategy for livelihood generation in the event of consistent failure of agriculture (Ray 2007). However, opportunity cost of the livelihood strategies that centered on agriculture was not favorable to an extent that one could cling to them for ensuring minimum survival conditions. Agriculture seemed to have witnessed a rift in its ecology especially when the rainfall pattern in the state witnessed a complete change. For example, until the end of 1970, it was, by and large, not different from what it was so during the decades earlier. However, after the early 1980, variability of rainfall and irregularity across the region increased to such an extent that agriculture turned out to be unsustainable further (Khan 1998). Such a variability of rainfall may be an outcome of climate change. One can gauge it from Table 1. Table 1. Average Rainfall Received by the State Years No. of Surplus No. of Deficit Total no. of years
years years 1981-1990 2 8 10 1991-2000 5 5 10 2001-2010 4 6 10 Total 11 19 30 Source: Irrigation Department, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur Agro-ecological rift The result was that the state was left with a sort of perpetual drought with some variations across different agro-ecological zones. The noticeable aspect was that it was more frequent and pronounced during the last two decades and was much different from the trend set earlier in the past. To be precise, frequency of droughtproness increased from late 1980s deviating from its five years’ cycle. In his extensive study on rainfall pattern in Rajasthan Khan shows that every fifth or sixth years was a deficit rainfall year. It further shows that excess rainfall condition (20 % to 50% of normal rainfall) repeated after fifth year (Khan 1998). As Table 1 shows that frequency of deficit rainfall in last decades was very high,
no longer fits into the same cycle. Consequently, ground water level declined steeply leading to result in expansion of dark zone, soil erosion, salanisation of soil and groundwater, poor maintenance of agricultural bio diversity, loss of soil moisture, loss of soil nutrient, degradation of village pastures etc. In other words, it created a rift in the agro-ecology of the state that adversely impacted livelihood security of the poor. It is needless to mention that livelihood of more than 70 per cent of the people depends on agriculture (that includes livestock also) alone. Table 2. Zonewise Total Cultivable Area in Rajasthan (Lac Hect.) Zone 1990-91 2000-01 2007-08 Arid 133.09 128.88 93.14 Semi-arid 49.65 42.42 24.17 Sub-humid 17.70 13.66 9.79 Humid 18.65 17.71 10.47 Total 219.09 202.66 137.57 Source: Statistical Abstract, Various issues, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur The discernable impact was felt in large contraction of the cultivable land of which 65 per cent was rain fed. It may be mentioned that nearly 60 per cent of the total land area of the state is covered by desert environment. (Swaminathan 2010). Table 2 shows that contraction was steady in all zones. This was accompanied by continued decline in average yield of all agricultural produces. Table 3 shows that decline in average yield in respect of all groups of agricultural produces was pronounced especially after 2001. Consequent to the declining average agricultural yield along with the growing population, per capita production declined in all zones, although severity was more pronounced in the humid and sub-humid zones (Table 4).
Table 3. Average Yield of Major Agricultural Produces in Rajasthan (1980-07) (Hectares per quintal) Produces Cereals 1980-81 1990-91 2000-01 2.971 9.683 10.346 2003-04 1.554 2004-05 1.272 2005-06 1.098 2006-07 1.412
Pulses 3.784 4.693 3.080 0.591 0.376 0.258 0.461 Oil-seeds 3.653 7.569 7.992 1.229 1.103 1.139 1.155 Others 35.332 27.156 13.598 1.284 1.025 1.409 2.208 G. Total 4.253 8.758 8.903 1.279 1.031 0.949 1.192 Source: Statistical Abstract, Various issues, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur Table 4. Per capita Production of Major Agriculture Crops in Rajasthan (Qtls.) Zone Arid Cereals Pulses Oil-seeds Others Gross Total Semi-arid Cereals 1.879 1.711 1.038 Pulses 0.000 0.112 0.057 Oil-seeds 0.601 0.315 0.081 Others 0.241 0.150 0.060 Gross Total 3.040 2.288 1.236 Sub-humid Cereals 0.862 0.460 0.511 Pulses 0.113 0.024 0.012 Oil-seeds 0.177 0.075 0.167 Others 0.498 0.186 0.016 Gross Total 1.651 0.746 0.705 Humid Cereals 0.639 0.393 0.276 Pulses 0.173 0.042 0.017 Oil-seeds 0.164 0.248 0.364 Others 0.265 0.136 0.002 Gross Total 1.241 0.820 0.658 Source: Estimated based on the data collected from Statistical Abstract, Various issues, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur Dimensions of development crisis The climate change might have induced rift in agro-ecology of the state. It, however, never restricted growth of population that aggravated livelihood security further. It was not the population size alone, its density even in the arid zone increased steeply (Table 5). Table 5. Zonewise Population of the State and its Density (1981-2001) Zone Area in Sq. Km. 1981 1991 2001 Population Density Population Density Population Density 1990-91 1.862 0.750 0.414 1.657 4.683 2000-01 1.460 0.275 0.246 1.085 3.067 2007-08 1.116 0.295 0.168 0.465 1.866
13483022 12146129 4743519 3889192 34261862
64.59 180.73 122.19 141.62 100.11
17509490 (29.86) 15680781 (29.10) 5797768 (22.23) 5017951 (29.02) 44005990
83.88 233.33 149.35 182.72 128.58
22496790 (28.48) 20364225 (29.87) 7233160 (24.76) 6378947 (27.12) 56473122
107.77 303.02 186.32 232.28 165.01
Semi arid 67205 Sub humid 38821 Humid 27462
(28.44) (28.33) Source: Population census, Government of India and Statistical Abstract, Various issues, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur It led to result in intensification of competing claims on already fragile resource base of the state. The traditional institutional arrangement that once allowed the resource use system to work fairly well without diluting the livelihood options and coping mechanisms of the poor (Jodha 2010) no longer came to their aid. For, it was already broken down due to social and economic pressure (Jodha 2010). The net result was uncertainty that began to pervade livelihood generation that the poor never witnessed before (Jodha 2010). It may be mentioned that almost half of the poor were self-employed in agriculture. In other words, it was the smallholdings in agriculture that became the major victim of the onslaught of low precipitation consequent to climate change (Achrya and Vidya Sagar 2007). The biggest threat came from overexploitation of ground water with water table falling down at the rate of one to three meters per year. Out of 237 blocks, 205 blocks is declared dark zone (Government of Rajasthan 2007). The conditions of availability of ground water became too critical especially for the poor farmers who were not financially capable to invest for drawing it. Of the total 237 ground water blocks of the state during 1984, the number of safe blocks was 162. It, however, declined to 32 in 2004. Much more serious was that the number of dark zones increased from 22 to 140 during the same period. If the zones that were declared critical were added, almost 81 per cent of ground water was to be treated under dark zone (Rathore 2007). The overexploitation of ground water adversely impacted health condition of the farmers in variety of ways. For instance, there had been steep incidence of deterioration of quality 6
of water over the years. During 1996, only 25.10 per cent villages and habitations were affected by chemical contamination. It increased to 61.3 per cent villages and habitations in 2001. The rise of fluoride content in ground water had been a source of threat in many areas in the state. It was revealed that deteriorating water quality (Rathore 2007) caused 60 per cent of the diverse and routine human ailments. As it has been reported by the Central Ground Water Board, ground water of 27 districts are partly contaminated by salinity ( Ec>3000 µS/cmat25 ºC), 30 districts by fluoride (>1.5 mg/1), 16 districts by chloride (>1000mg/1), 28 districts by Iron (>1,0 mg?1) and all 33 districts by nitrate (>45 mg/1) (Government of India, 2010). All these tend to suggest increasing damage caused to agroecology of the state that threatened nutritional security of the poor leading to result in declining health pattern. Livestock sector that would have ideally provided a serious alternative to their livelihood under such critical conditions failed to do so. For, it was riddled with a host of conflict, the important of which was poor performance of agriculture and declined carrying capacity of the grassland (Ray 2007). While the density of livestock population increased in all agroclimatic zones steeply over the years due to accelerated dependence on it as a source of livelihood (Table 6), regeneration of grassland failed to keep pace with it. The livelihood generation from this source was not adequate enough to ensure its security at the household level.
Table 6. Livestock Density in All Agro-Climatic Zones in Rajasthan (1972-2003) Zone Area in Sq. Km. 1972 1983 1992 2003
Cattle unit Density Cattle unit Density Cattle unit Density Cattle unit Density Arid 208751 8441877 40.44 12145946 58.18 12555316 Semi arid 67205 9813473 146.02 10999398 163.67 11455232 Sub humid 38821 5098538 131.33 5667225 145.98 5996492 Humid 27462 3480283 126.73 4006098 145.88 4154010 Rajasthan 342239 26834171 78.41 32818666 95.89 34161050 Source: Livestock census, various issues, Government of Rajasthan 60.14 14379031 68.88 170.45 12847731 191.17 154.47 6424075 165.48 151.26 4745999 172.82 99.82 38396836 112.19
Note: Cattle Unit: One Cow = 1 cattle unit, One Buffalo = 2 cattle units, One Goat = 0.25 cattle unit Carbon sequestration that helps grassland to grow is constrained to increase due to low water holding capacity of the soil. Its fall out was discernable when composition of livestock reproduction, characterized by the shift from cow to buffalo took place over the last two decades in response to lack of regeneration of grassland. Buffalo could survive on cattle feed being purchased from the market and green fodder being grown in the agricultural field under such conditions. These sources, however, were beyond the reach of the poor who largely depended on common grazing land for raising their livestock. The adverse impact of the climate change on the non-priced goods such as fuel wood and other forest produce was no less significant for the poor. These are some problems that emanate from the supply side. However, appropriate management of the grassland in a situation where the impact of climate change is discernable in all traditional sources of livelihood generation of the poor, is the only way out. It is not only the grassland management. In many others resects including moisture conservation of the agricultural land, the state must conceive appropriate programmatic interventions to see that adverse impact of the climate change is averted. On the top of all, lack of their proper integration with the market for their agricultural produces had always been a constant source for damaging their prospect of gain from agricultural trade. Market imperfection was so intense in several areas that the poor farmers could hardly claim due share in the value addition of their agricultural produces. The poor were left with no option but to migrate as wage labor. The incidence of poverty deepened further from what was estimated during early 2000 (Institute of Development Studies 2008). Steps taken Although several programmatic interventions were made by the government and civil society organizations to ensure livelihood security of the poor, sustainability continued to be a great concern. Apart from few employment and income generation programs through advancement of credit that have been implemented on a limited scale, interventions are being sought for regeneration of natural resource base of the state. However, no such intervention proved as adequate as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for the redressal of the growing livelihood insecurity of the poor. It constitutionally ascertains wage employment of all households in the rural areas
for 100 days in a year at a stipulated wage rate. The state of Rajasthan has been implementing this Act since 2006. Table 7 shows that on an average only 16.20 per cent of total man days of employment were actually created until 2010-2011 in the state. The state seems to have a long way to go to achieve the goal as desired. The striking feature of this mode of employment generation was that largest number of people working as wage laborers under this programme was women. Table 7. No. of Total Man days of Employment Actually Created until 2010-2011 Total mandays SC ST Others Total Women Arid 19.32 20.83 15.59 16.58 11.44 Semi-arid 14.38 14.31 13.55 13.75 9.91 Sub-humid 21.49 21.60 17.09 19.30 13.53 Humid 15.89 24.86 11.00 17.83 11.44 G. Total 17.74 21.15 14.62 16.20 11.24 Source: Panchayati and Rural development department, Government of Rajasthan, Jaipur Note: Estimated based on the job cards given during the same period. While such step is undoubtedly beneficial for the poor, one may be curious to know how innovative they are in terms of being able to remove vulnerability of the poor to livelihood insecurity and relevance of the activities taken up under the program for sustainable livelihood generation for the poor. We may be able to respond to these questions if we examine them against the backdrop of the field level situation. II Agro-ecological rift and livelihood insecurity –A field level assessment Introduction Agricultural transformation sought by the poor farming community in their struggle to create conditions for their survival was noticeably different in semi-arid villages of Rajasthan that has the history of breeding cultural resilience. Bad Bagpura and Bapu are two such villages located in Chaksu tehsil in Jaipur district. The first one was the village with a small population size of 1189 of 204 households and the second one with a large size of population of 2011. No matter who comes from which social background, poor households, in particular, in both the villages had to wage a struggle which they never did earlier in the past to this magnitude for searching alternative source for livelihood Zone
generation. This happened because agriculture gradually ceased to generate livelihood they required over last two decades or so. No doubt, pattern of rainfall was exceptionally poor that was never witnessed earlier in the past, as mentioned earlier. This had definite contribution to the poor performance of agriculture and inadequate livelihood generation for the poor. However, what was equally or more important, as observed in the field, was the faulty agricultural practices that was followed in such low rainfall regime. This led to result in agro-ecological rift that reduced the space for agriculture to ensure food security for the poor. It was not only the traditional poor, including landless, small and marginal farmers, but the landed farmers (medium and large) too were the victim of the process of degeneration. An attempt is made in this section to investigate this process based on the information and data collected through field survey in the villages mentioned above. The paper then examines steps taken by the villagers to restore agro-ecology of the village and revive agriculture even in low rainfall conditions. Steps taken by the government to meet the livelihood crisis is also examined. An Unstable village economy Until early 1990s villages under study received reasonably good rainfall, may not be as good as it was before early 1980s. In any case, livelihood generation was never a problem. Both agriculture and livestock, in tandem, were capable to generate income and employment for both women and men. Farming was primarily traditional in that both male and female folk were engaged. Seed was traditional producing gram, barley, wheat, bajra, maize, Gowar, jowar, groundnut etc during both khariff and Rabi seasons respectively. Dependence on cow dung for raising soil fertility was absolute. However, village economy started witnessing a gradual drift towards instability in late 1980s when water table started falling due to shortage of rainfall and absence of water harvesting structures for storing rain water for recharging underground aquifers. However, it was not all that bad, as the villagers reported, until 1990s when agriculture began to pay less than average. Household economy of the poor farmers in particular and the farming community in general was pushed in to great uncertainty.
New Agricultural practices It was at this stage that the extension department of agriculture of the government of Rajasthan played a key role for reversal of the downward trend of agriculture. The only problem was that farmers never knew that much serious challenge was waiting for them to face for generating their livelihood later after the introduction of new agricultural practices as advised by the same department. Hybrid seed replaced the traditional one. This was associated with the application of DAP and urea for increasing soil fertility that witnessed a decline earlier. Farmers were told that comparative advantage of HYV was more than the traditional one in variety of ways. For example, crops grown on HYV would require less water mainly because time period being taken until it is ready to harvest was shorter. The net result was the rise of crop productivity, needed to feed more people the number of which increased. A new era in agriculture in the village was ushered in that application of cow dung to increase soil fertility took the backseat. Initially, the new practice was remunerative to the farmer which was why increasingly more areas were brought under cultivation. The practice of land keeping fallow gradually disappeared. Of course, fragmentation of land holdings due to division of the household members contributed to this. The discernable impact of the disappearance of the practice was visible in the decline of livestock. Fallow land that used to produce grass and helped sustenance of livestock was increasingly brought under cultivation. Now that the source dried up, livestock gradually ceased to be another source of livelihood generation. Livelihood criticalities intensified further when new market dependent agricultural practices were not complemented by poor availability of ground water. New practice: A mismatch? It is naive to argue that it was unpredictably low precipitation for a long period that was responsible for such an untenable agricultural performance. Examining the criticalities of livelihood insecurity only through the lens of climate change is tantamount to ignoring the adverse impact other factors make. For example, the rise in population never posed any formidable challenge to food security until sufficient food was produced and made available to the household. The new agricultural practices in early 1990s was perhaps a welcome step to respond to the growing deficit of rainwater and low agricultural production that failed to meet increasing demand for food security of increased size of 11
population. It was true that productivity improved due to the replacement of traditional seed by HYV and organic by inorganic fertilizer. And, of course, there was an immediate gain that accrued to the poor farmers too. However, after a few years or so, new practices ceased to give further dividends to the farmers who were caught up by perpetual indebtedness. The reason was simple. Higher input costs far outweighed productivity gains. Now, it was agriculture even of the poor who were completely dependent on market for both seed and fertilizer. Every year they had to purchase new seed because crop productivity declines if same seed is used in the following year. The scale of application of fertilizer increased in each following year in order to stop further decline of crop productivity. It means that in each following year they were required to apply more fertilizer to obtain same output. Hence, even if the price per unit of fertilizer was same, expenditure shot up due to its increased dose of application in the field. It is needless to mention that new agricultural practices continued to gain momentum despite poor rainfall in each successive year with little variation. This had perceptibly adverse impact on the agro-ecology which the farmers realized much later. For example, many farmers observed that water holding capacity of the soil which was already low, declined further with the application of increasing dose of fertilizer. Soil became harder which was why rain water never stayed in the field and improve moisture condition of the soil. It flew down. It was never witnessed by the farmers before new agricultural practices were followed by them. Added to it, cost of extraction of ground water increased steeply. For, farmers had to deepen their wells in each year to draw ground water that continuously depleted. Not to talk about agricultural yield that witnessed a steady decline . It was a case that illustrates how agro- ecological rift had taken place and could manifest in upsetting economics of crop production. Farmers landed up in an uncertain terrain, much more than what it was before the new practices were followed, not knowing how to pull on with such market-led cost intensive agriculture. Livestock that had the potential to provide alternative source of livelihood dried up significantly. The only way out was migration. Fighting agro-ecological rift
It was against the backdrop of the changing dynamics of agriculture including its changing practices, agro- ecological rift and its restoration and increasing requirement of food due to growing population over the years we must locate the problem of livelihood generation of the poor. The adverse impact of growing population is discernable in view of the fact that the available area per person declined steadily from 0.83 hectare in 1981 to 0.38 hectares in 2010 in Bad Bagpura village. The story was same in respect of Bapu village from 0.88 hectare to 0.49 hectare during the same period. The cultivable area witnessed steady decline (Table 8). Table 8. Availability of Cultivable Area per Person of the Sample Villages 1981 541 448 0.83 361 4.40 0.67 Bad Baghpura 1991 2001 748 924 448 448 0.60 0.48 389 268 3.38 1.89 0.52 0.29 2010 1189 448 0.38 NA NA NA 1981 1120 981 0.88 619 3.50 0.55 Bapu 1991 2001 1414 1933 981 981 0.69 0.51 638 638 3.08 2.11 0.45 0.33 2010 2011 981 0.49 NA NA NA
1. Total Population (No.) 2. Total Area (Hect.) 3. Area per person (Hect.) 4. Cultivable area (Hect.) 5.Cultivable area per Household (Hect.) 6. Cultivable area per person (Hect.) Source: Field Survey
It is needless to mention that it was the poor (landless, small and marginal farmers together) that constituted the largest majority in both villages (71 per cent in Bad Bagpura and 83 per cent households of the total households). It means that this segment of the population of the sample villages, whose choice in such a context shrunk further for livelihood generation through agriculture. However, adequate adaptive measures to control agro-ecological rift induced by climate change, in all likelihood, was expected to change the scenario by way of boosting up agricultural yield and changing cropping pattern. It was expected further, as a consequence, that the poor would be less vulnerable to livelihood crisis. In view of this, several steps were taken by the villagers around 1995 to counter the negative impact of the climate change on the agro-ecology, which was accompanied by the introduction of new agricultural practices. It was at the initiative of some local NGOs including Center for Community Economics and Development Consultant Society (CECOEDECON) and Gramodya Samajik Sansthan, farmers strove to bring back 13
resilience to the agro-ecology mainly through revival of some traditional practices including (1) rain water harvesting and (2) construction of small ‘bund’ (medbandi in local term) in the agricultural land to arrest rainwater so that moisture content of the soil improved. Moisture conservation through this process brought some relief to the farmers especially the poor ones. They could now produce crops in Rabi season, which was completely stopped. This was supplemented by increased recharge of ground water aquifer as a result of digging of farm ponds, desilting of village ponds etc. The other steps included increased use of compost as a substitute to inorganic fertilizer, a step to bring back ecological resilience of the soil that they were losing after they went in for new agricultural practices. All these measures including rainwater conservation were followed in Bapu village more extensively. For example, for rainwater conservation, a huge tank with a radius of half a kilometer was constructed by the villagers in addition to the construction of farm ponds, medbandi etc. As a result, the decline in irrigated area as a percentage of the cultivable was less in this village as compared to Bad Bagpura village that witnessed comparatively more decline. This is shown in Table 9.
Table 9. Irrigated Area as a Percentage of the Cultivable Area in the Sample Villages before and after Intervention Land Bad Baghpura Bapu Before After Before After Irrigated 37.73 17.42 78.87 73.72 Rainfed 62.27 82.58 21.13 26.28 Total cultivable Source: Field Survey 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
Table 10. Cropping Pattern (Cultivable area in bighas) before and after Intervention Crops Rabi Wheat Barley Gram Mustard Groundnut Bad Baghpura Before 112.5 24 4 242.5 19 After 25 5 3 345.5 30 Before 170.5 27 0 114.5 25 Bapu After 159.5 23 0 119.5 14
Total Kharif Bajra Gwar Maize Jowar Til Total Source: Field Survey
402 194 17.5 2 147 6.5 367
408.5 185 19 0 189 11 404
314.5 271 3 0 36 0 310
316 261.5 0 0 39 0 300.5
Table 9 shows that irrigated area as a percentage of the cultivable area declined in both villages, but it was less in Bapu village as compared to the other one. It declined by 20.31 bighas of land in the first village while 5.15 bighas of land in the case of the second village. This was possible to achieve due to greater availability of ground water for cultivation of crops in Rabi session. Table 10 shows that area under all crops except mustard and groundnut declined more sharply in Bad Bagpura during Rabi season than what it did in Bapu village. Another important aspect to note was that there was a steady rise of commercial crops such as mustard and groundnut in both villages during the same season. While irrigation source of groundwater did not change significantly in both villages, what mattered was the availability of water at a certain level. For instance, total number of wells and other sources for irrigation of the sample households remained almost same for last 15 years in both villages. It is needless to mention that majority of the sample households who were poor had wells. It was revealed during field survey that rainwater conservation through construction of a huge tank, as mentioned earlier and medbandi construction in more than 500 bighas of land made a significant difference to arrest steep decline of area especially under wheat production in Bapu village as compared to Bad Bagpura village. In other words, villagers of Bapu could take better care to prevent further damage to the agro-ecological rift. To go one step further, it appears from Table 11 that area under wheat production in respect of small and marginal farmers did not decline much in Bapu village in the recent past despite having severe water scarcity under drought condition. However, it declined sharply in Badbagpura. The poor in Bad Bagpura did fairly well in mustard production that required comparatively less water for irrigation.
Table 11. Cropping Pattern per Poor Household on an Average before and after Intervention in Both villages (Area in bighas) I. Bad Baghpura Crops Rabi Wheat Barley Gram Mustard Groundnut Total Kharif Bajra Gwar Maize Jowar Til Total Source: Field Survey II. Bapu village Crops Rabi Wheat Barley Gram Mustard Groundnut Total Kharif Bajra Gwar Maize Jowar Til Total Source: Field Survey Poor 1.79 0.32 0.00 0.98 0.04 3.13 2.65 0.00 0.00 0.26 0.00 2.91 Before Rich 4.91 0.55 0.00 4.64 0.00 10.09 9.00 0.27 0.00 1.73 0.00 11.00 Poor 1.68 0.31 0.00 0.99 0.05 3.03 2.73 0.00 0.00 0.28 0.00 3.01 After Rich 4.55 0.27 0.00 5.00 1.00 10.52 7.64 0.00 0.00 1.91 0.00 9.55 Poor 1.53 0.21 0.06 2.50 0.30 4.61 2.65 0.06 0.06 1.61 0.03 4.41 Before Rich 3.44 0.94 0.11 8.89 0.50 13.89 5.92 0.86 0.00 5.22 0.31 12.31 Poor 0.18 0.06 0.09 3.02 0.45 3.80 2.44 0.11 0.00 1.76 0.05 4.35 After Rich 1.06 0.17 0.00 13.67 0.83 15.72 5.81 0.86 0.00 7.28 0.53 14.47
This has implications for food security of the household in terms of availability of agricultural output. Table 12 shows that the availability of wheat production of small and marginal farmers increased in Bapu village while it declined in the other village during the period under consideration. In respect of mustard production, average availability per household of the small and marginal farmers increased in both villages. Although retention of cereals for home consumption was around 70-80 per cent in both villages, per capita availability in terms of minimum needs of everything together 16
including food, clothing, education, health and housing and of course, social ceremonies were found to be absolutely inadequate. From this point of view, the situation of Bad Bagpura was precarious for it was not only availability of cereals for home consumption that was unbearably low, quantity of mustard available for sale was meager. However, Bapu village that followed adaptive strategy more intensively presented a comparatively a better situation, but, vulnerability of the small and marginal farmers to food insecurity was no less. Table 12. Agricultural Production of Major Crops per Poor Household per Year Villages Crops Bad Baghpura Wheat Barley Mustard Bajra Wheat Barley Mustard Bajra Before Intervention∗ Poor Rich 5.51 0.12 3.41 6.94 8.04 0.37 0.99 5.89 25.26 1.70 18.41 15.09 26.26 0.55 8.19 17.70 After Intervention Poor Rich 0.73 0.24 7.12 6.09 9.68 0.92 1.84 7.75 6.67 1.00 22.56 13.33 24.82 0.91 11.82 16.27
Source: Field Survey ∗ Crop output before intervention is estimated based on the information on yield rate of each crop and area as given by the sample households. Table 13. Per capita Availability of Agricultural Food for Consumption per Day (kg) Bad Baghpura Marginal Small Medium Wheat + Bajra 0.118 0.214 0.244 total Mustard 0.020 0.044 0.022 Crops Source: Field Survey Agriculture could no longer be considered as a dependable source for livelihood generation even for those who were medium landholders in Bad Bagpura. In this village, it was only the large farming households who could have more than 500 grams (both wheat and Bajra together) of cereal per person per day (Table 13). A member of a marginal farmer’s household could avail only 118 grams of cereal per day from his agriculture. However, the situation of Bapu village was not as bad as it was for Bad Bagpura. For instance, Table 13 shows that a member in the marginal farmer’s household could get 474 Bapu Large Marginal Small Medium Large 0.512 0.474 0.723 0.679 1.038 0.071 0.016 0.066 0.058 0.063
grams of cereal (both wheat and Bajra together) in a day. It is needless to mention that the villagers, as discussions with them revealed, continued to confront the same conditions of livelihood generation for past several years with marginal variation ever since rainfall was poor and inadequate. Table 14. Composition of Livestock per Household (in terms of cattle unit) Villages 1.Bad Baghpura 2. Bapu village Source: Field Survey Before Intervention Poor Rich Total 5 6 6 3 3 3 After Intervention Poor Rich Total 3 7 4 3 9 4
Even with respect to stocking rate of livestock, Bapu village could achieve more than the other village under study over the years. Table 14 shows that livestock expressed in terms of cattle unit per household in Bapu village was 3 units before water and soil conservation took place. It, however, increased to 4 units, while the same declined in Bad Bagpura from 6 units to 4 units. The noticeable change that had taken place in the wake of intervention was that even small and marginal farmers could grow fodder in their land and sell it to the landless after having retained the required quantity for their animals in Bapu village. This had facilitated the poor of this village to prevent the decline of livestock. Table 15. Average Production, Consumption and Sale of Milk per Day (in Kg) Villages 1.Bad Baghpura 2. Bapu village Source: Field Survey Production Poor Rich 5.32 14.11 6.68 20.36 Consumption Poor Rich 3.54 5.83 4.02 8.55 Sale Poor Rich 1.79 8.11 2.64 11.82
However, gain in terms of milk production, consumption and sale was too less to depend upon as a source of livelihood generation. This is shown in Table 15. If cost including the imputed value of household labor is taken into consideration, net returns from livestock may turn out to be negative or too small to account for especially for the poor. All these observations on the villages under study are pointers to growing decay of livelihood generation especially of the poor. Although the poor could relatively gain more in one village where the village community is engaged in a continuous struggle to bring back resilience of its agro ecology, achievement is not sufficient enough to get them out of the vulnerability trap of food insecurity. This provides the context that gives legitimacy why
employment generation program such as MGNREGA should be made relevant. However, innovativeness of this program as mentioned earlier, in terms of its effectiveness in removing vulnerability of the poor to food insecurity needs scrutiny. MNAREGA, how important is it? Table 16 shows that a poor household with an average number of household of seven and eight members in the respective village could earn wage income from MGNREGA, on an average, to the tune of Rs 7547 in Bad Bagpura and Rs 7283 in Bapu village respectively during 2009-10. It was 10 per cent of the gross household income estimated from all sources. If we go by the latest estimate of the planning commission that considered Rs 700 per person per month as the amount required for a minimal diet, poor in these villages, Table 16 shows, could be all below poverty in the absence of MGAREGA. With the inflow of earnings from MGNAREGA to the poor household, estimated per capita income per person per month is Rs. 776 in Bad Bagpura and Rs 875 in Bapu village. It is further estimated that an additional average income around Rs 1000 per person per year flows from MGNAREGA in a poor household. Table 16 also shows that the medium and large land holders, the rich component of the population, could add 4 to 6 per cent to their household income although inflow of wage income under this program per household of this category of population was more than that of the poor household. In Bad Bagpura it was Rs 7722 while it was Rs 8773 in Bapu village. Table 16. Contribution of MGNREGA to Household Income of the Poor Sources MGNREGA Bad Baghpura Poor Rich 7547 7722 (10.12) (4.24) 11548 0 18648 44167 25142 58111 5146 55081 6512 17208 74542 182289 6212 15191 776 1899 Bapu village Poor Rich 7283 8773 (9.91) (6.22) 5246 0 14841 0 29652 43636 9159 63229 7339 25400 73520 141038 6127 11753 875 1679
Wages Service Non-farm Agriculture (Net) Livestock (Net) Gross annual income Gross income of the HHs per month Average income per person per month Source: Field Survey * Figures within brackets are percentage share of gross annual income
No doubt, MGNREGA has made a difference to the livelihood generation of the poor in these villages. Their household economy is now more stable as compared to earlier when searching cost of wage employment was too high. The livelihood generation scenario has now changed due to implementation of this program while it has led to the emergence of dichotomy, as it were, in the rural labor market. It is in the sense that it has widened the scope for women to obtain wage employment. And, by doing so, it seems to have injected greater flexibility to the available household labor in that women members seek wage employment under MGNREGA while male folk do the same in other avocations including agriculture. The male folk can afford to move anywhere they like for wage employment. However, this is somewhat difficult for women, which is why they prefer to work as wage labor under MGNREGA nearer to their homestead. This was corroborated by the discussions held with the villagers, who expressed without any ambiguity that expansion of the scope for livelihood generation especially by providing wage employment to women under MGNREGA has impacted their social life positively. They are now able to send their children to schools as well. For instance, out of 60 respondents in Bad Bagpura village, 53 respondents expressed that they were now able to send their children to the school. In the Bapu village, 77 respondents out of 80 expressed the same. There had been a marked improvement in housing and sanitary conditions of the villagers in the recent past. The construction of village roads is another activity that was taken up under MGNERAGA. However, it did not encourage the villagers to increase their movements outside their villages. Another equally or more significant aspect of MGNREGA was that activities that were performed were primarily directed towards restoration of ecological resilience of agro ecology of these villages. These initiatives will definitely arrest agro- ecological rift to a conceivable extent. It was an attempt to activate ground water aquifer by way of constructing storage tanks, desilting of farm ponds etc. Farmers have now reasons to expect to gain from agriculture and bring back stability to their livelihood. In addition to it, pastureland of the village was revived by way of plantation and grass production. This would of great incentive for livestock to provide livelihood as an additional source that they almost lost.
III Suggestion and conclusions Any suggestion that one can think of it being relevant is essentially a strategy to adapt to climate change. In the context of dry land poverty discourse, it is imperative to keep in mind the rate of precipitation that allows regeneration of renewable resources and its corresponding impact on sustainable livelihood generation of the poor. Despite the fact that there had been some change in composition of rural employment in view of the growth of the non-farm sector, largest majority in the rural areas depends on agriculture. It means that we need to seek adaptive strategies to climate change especially for the semiskilled and unskilled poor in land related activities. The land related activities mainly include (1) agriculture (2) horticulture and (3) livestock. In a dry land context where the challenge of climate change is very high, one must explore different means to harness the possibility of maximum utilization of the renewable resources while precipitation is low. While no alternative is available to rainwater conservation, it is necessary to deepen watershed development activities that are undertaken under MGNREGA throughout the state. What is, however, not taken up seriously under this program is construction of bunds (medbandi) in the agricultural fields for soil and moisture conservation. This is an extremely important step in dry land agriculture that fails to perform well due to continuous loss of soil moisture. As the above case study on Bapu village shows, even the poor farmers (small and marginal) could grow wheat during Rabi season and gain considerably from medbandi construction. The poor farmers of the other village could never gain even to the extent poor farmers of Bapu village did for they failed to take up such activities that help to conserve moisture. Even though such activities are to be taken up in private agricultural land, one needs to work out how they can be brought under the purview of MGNREGA. This will go a long way to address the problem of agro ecological rift leading to result in massive fall in land productivity. The other activity that may be taken up as an adaptive strategy is related to sustainable development of livestock especially small ruminants such as sheep. With its largest stock of sheep and largest area of grassland in the country, the state has the largest potential to generate employment and income opportunities for the poor unskilled and semi-skilled villagers (Ray 1997). Grass can grow even under the condition of low precipitation while agriculture may not. Grass can be converted in to wool, milk and leather. While there had
been enormous development of milk economy in the state over the years, no significant development took place to utilize the local resource such as sheep and wool for maximization of forward linkages and generating income and employment opportunities for the poor. There is a large scope for grassland development by way of implementing MGNREGA in almost all parts of the state. In order to develop sheep and wool based activities in the state, common facility Centre (CFC) must be developed in the state (Ray 1997). One may have to explore whether MNAREGA could create space for such activities to come up in the state. As mentioned earlier, there are several structural reasons why poor are vulnerable to food insecurity. In Rajasthan, for instance, market imperfections at the level where the poor sheep rearers sell wool and animal, never allow them to obtain the actual share in the value addition they deserve. They are being paid only subsistence level of earnings (Ray 1995). The sheep and wool-based activities may prove to be a relevant adaptive strategy for the poor if CFCs are built up. This will not only remove market distortions and create space for the poor sheep rearers to gain more share in the final value addition of their produce, but also generate employment and income opportunities for the poor through processing activities in the common facility centers. The development of these centers will have to be cluster based in that cluster formation is the necessary condition. While it is not an overstatement that climate change induces agro-ecological drift, one has no reason to ignore the role of other factors for the latter to come about. The present case study shows that new agricultural practices followed by the farmers in early 1990s turned agriculture profitable to begin with. However, this was not so in the subsequent years. More importantly, they went against agro ecology of the villages and deepened livelihood crisis of the poor. The paper further shows that those who could repair the ecological damage to whatever extent they could, they gained. Particularly, the poor.
(The paper is presented at the International Conference on “The Environments of the poor in the context of climate change and the green economy”organised by the Asian Development Bank at New Delhi during 24-26 November 2010. I am grateful to Shri Jagdish Sharma, Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur for his unstinted support for preparing this paper. I am specially thankful to Prof. Anushree Sinha, NCAER, New Delhi and Dr. Armin Bauer, Senior Economist Asian Development Bank for their co-operation and help. Their comments and observations on the paper were extremely valuable. I am also thankful to other participants of the conference for their insightful comments). References Achrya, Sarthi and Vidyasagar (2007): “ Labor Employment and poverty” in Rajasthan the quest for sustainable development (ed.) Vyas, V.S et.al (New Delhi, Academic Foundation) p143. Chhetri, Netra b and Easterling, William E (2008): “Climate change and food security in Dryland region of the world’ Annals of arid Zone, 47 (3 and 4): 473-484. Government of India (2010): Central Groundwater Board, Ministry of Water Resources, http://cgwb.gov.in/gw_profiles/st_Rajasthan.htm. Institute of development studies (2008): Human Development Report, Rajasthan (An update-2008). International assessment of agricultural Knowledge, science and technology (IAASTD), Global Report, Chapter 4 (2009): “ Outlook on agricultural change and its drivers” (Washington, Iceland Press) pp286-287. Jodha, N.S (2010): “ The changing resource use dynamics in arid lands, viewed through water and livestock lens” in rainfed Agriculture in India (ed.) Singh, S and Rathore, M. S, (Jaipur, Rawat Publications) p 244. Khan, Yaseen (1998): climate and dry land ecology (Jaipur, Rabat Publications). Krisnnaraj, M (2006): “ Food security, agrarian crisis and rural livelihoods-implications for women” Economic and Political weekly, Vol XLI, No 52, December 30. Rathore, M.S (2007): “Natural resource Use, environmental implications” in Rajasthan the Quest for sustainable development (ed.) Vyas, V.S et.al (New Delhi, Academic Foundation) p 56. Ray, Sunil (1997): Natural Resources, organization and technology linkages (Jaipur, Rawat Publications). Ray, Sunil (2007): “Sustainable Livestock Development in Rajasthan, Some issues” in Rajasthan the quest for Sustainable development (ed.), Vyas, V.S et.al (Academic Foundation, New Delhi), p233. Ray, Sunil (2008): “ Is Rajasthan heading towards caste war? Economic and political weekly, Vol. XL111, No 10, March 8-14.
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