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Sustainable livelihood approaches Concepts and their application in research on organic cotton farming in India Frank Eyhorn Helvetas Organic & Fairtrade.

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Presentation on theme: "Sustainable livelihood approaches Concepts and their application in research on organic cotton farming in India Frank Eyhorn Helvetas Organic & Fairtrade."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sustainable livelihood approaches Concepts and their application in research on organic cotton farming in India Frank Eyhorn Helvetas Organic & Fairtrade Competence Centre

2 Ziele Kennenlernen des Sustainable Livelihood Approach Illustration seiner Anwendung in einem konkreten Fallbeispiel (Bio-Baumwolle Indien) Anwendung des Konzeptes anhand des eigenen Livelihood Systems Übertragung auf die personelle Entwicklungszusammenarbeit

3 What happens at the other end of the chain? “100% organic cotton“ - ???

4 Challenges in cotton farming Cotton Worldwide ~ 100 Mio. farmers Important economic sector in many developing countries Production involves environmental and health hazards Decreasing net returns for farmers, increasing indebtedness Organic cotton farming Increasing number of farmers grow organic cotton Growing market demand  Is organic cotton farming a viable alternative?

5 Case study: the Maikaal bioRe initiative in Central India Located in the Narmada Valley in Madhya Pradesh Organic nutrient and pest management of the entire farm (robust varieties, organic manures, intercropping, botanical sprays etc.) No synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, GMO Company with 1’500 associated certified organic farms (now: 7’900) Extension and internal control system 20% organic price premium on local market prices for cotton India

6 In search of a conceptual approach... Criteria for a reference frame 1. Help in formulating relevant questions for the analysis of impact and of decision making 2. Allow meaningful interpretation of observable behaviour 3. Be based on respect for the societies and actors to which it applies

7 Two possible conceptual approaches 1) The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (DFID 1999) 2) The Rural Livelihood Systems Mandala (RLS-Mandala) (Högger 1994) inner reality   outer reality

8 Developing the framework step by step 1. In how far does the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (DFID) help us to tackle the research question? 2. What can the RLS-Mandala contribute to a more holistic understanding of livelihoods of (organic) cotton farmers? 3. Combining the two approaches and testing the framework in research on organic cotton farming in India  The example of farmer Vishnu Gangaram

9 The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (DFID 1999) Decreasing soil fertility  decli- ning yields Declining in- come, increas- ing debts Maikaal bioRe: extension, price premium High input costs, low cotton prices, droughts New trade rela- tion, better price, less risk Conversion to organic farming Know-how on organic farming methods, skills Better soil fer- tility, less costs, more income Use of fertilizers; exclusion from the project ? „Money to buy inputs“? „Good monsoon“? H = Human Capital S = Social Capital N = Natural Capital P = Physical Capital F = Financial Capital

10 inner reality outer reality The Rural Livelihood Systems-Mandala (Högger 1994) Additional dimensions

11 Blending Elements from the Livelihood-Frameworks of DFID and RLS 

12 Research questions What is the impact of organic farming on the livelihoods of farmers? What does the adoption of organic farming mean to a farm household?... and approach System comparison study (quantitative) Adoption analysis study (qualitative) Can adoption of organic farming be meaningfully integrated into a livelihood strategy that enables the farm household to improve its livelihood situation and to cope with the dynamic context?

13 System comparison study Comparison of 60 organic and 60 conventional farms, randomly selected Interviews and agronomic data monitoring (2 years) Measurements and soil sample analysis Analysed: cropping patterns, production costs, labour input, water use, yields, gross margins impact on soil, etc.

14 Main results (organic farms) Cropping patterns: more diverse crop rotation Labour input: 0-10% higher Production costs: 10-20% lower total costs, 40% lower input costs Yields: no significant difference Net profit: 30-40% higher in cotton, 10-20% higher in overall farm (including rotation crops) Soil fertility: no differences in soil organic matter content and water retention capacity detected Soil nutrients: less fields with nutrient deficiency of P, K and B No significant difference in irrigation water quantities applied in cotton

15 Adoption analysis study Analyzed aspects: Perceptions Attitudes Motivations Decision making Risk behaviour Vulnerability Gender aspects Obstacles to conversion Dropping out of organic farming Methods: Interviews on motivations and perceptions Time-line analysis Interviews on changes in the livelihood system Controversial statement analysis Group discussions based on video screening Observation protocols Research feedback

16 „Controversial statement analysis“

17 Group discussions based on video screening

18 Interviews on changes in the livelihood system

19 Obstacles to adopting organic farming Concerns and doubts All change requires efforts Low awareness on costs Doubts on feasibility and viability Dissens within the family Status concerns Short-term needs Lack of information, know-how and skills Never heard about organic farming Lack of know-how on farm ecology Complex standard requirements Need to learn skills Management of rotation crops Economic hurdles Expecting drop in yields and incomes Need to sustain during initial years Covering costs of conversion Fear of increased workload Limited availability of labour Technical Challenges Shortage of dung and biomass Organic methods work slowly Control of problematic pests Farmers find record keeping for certification difficult Strategy development Obstacles to adopting organic farming

20 Farmers dropping out from organic farming Compliance with organic standards checked by internal and external control system Farms excluded from the project due to the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or GMO High ‘defaulting-rates’ in 2003 (40%) and in 2004 (30%)! Mainly wealthier farmers defaulted  opportunism! Temptation of trying out GMO-cotton  „being progressive“!  Insight that free-riding puts the entire group at risk! (losing the certification)  Importance of building emotional project ownership and group coherence, leading to mutual control

21 Conclusions from the research project Organic farming can substantially contribute to improving the livelihoods of smallholders. It can produce similar yields at lower production costs and involving less risk. It can generate higher incomes and helps strengthening the livelihood base. It allows more sustainable management of natural resources. It can contribute to re-inforce cooperation among farmers and strengthen the role of women. Is organic farming a viable option for smallholders in developing countries?

22 Challenges ahead Diversification of incomes, soil fertility management and water management (climate change!) need further efforts. To enable smallholders to adopt organic farming, concepts are needed to minimize and bridge the gap of income during the conversion period. To avoid defaulting, it is important to build “emotional ownership“ for the project and mutual social control among farmers. Influence of a dynamic context? GMO-cotton, increasing fuel and food prices, globalisation


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