Livelihoods and agro-ecological gradients: A meso-level analysis in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, India
Rice-wheat systems in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) have long exemplified South Asia's agricultural transformation through the Green Revolution. The same systems now also typify the post-Green Revolution stagnation and equity challenges, despite receiving considerable attention from the research and development (R&D) community. The apparent homogeneity of vast irrigated plains masks significant diversity in assets, livelihood strategies and livelihood outcomes. The paper analyzes the rural livelihoods and underlying agro-ecological gradients in the IGP drawing on village surveys and secondary data as characterization tools. The contribution of the paper is twofold: (i) new knowledge of the socio-economic circumstances in farming communities across the Indian IGP to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of R&D interventions and particularly poverty alleviation; and (ii) an illustration of a novel approach to operationalize livelihood analysis at the meso-level so as to address spatial scale issues and link micro-level contextual realities across a vast geographical area. The agricultural R&D community needs to incorporate this socio-economic diversity more proactively into its R&D agenda if it is to succeed in sustaining productivity gains, improving rural livelihoods equitably, and securing environmental sustainability in this important eco-region.
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