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Livelihoods and agro-ecological gradients: A meso-level analysis in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, India


  • Erenstein, Olaf
  • Thorpe, William


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Erenstein, Olaf & Thorpe, William, 2011. "Livelihoods and agro-ecological gradients: A meso-level analysis in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, India," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 42-53, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:104:y:2011:i:1:p:42-53

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Krishna, Vijesh V. & Aravindakshan, Sreejith & Chowdhury, Apurba & Rudra, Bankim, 2012. "Farmer Access and Differential Impacts of Zero Tillage Technology in the Subsistence Wheat Farming Systems of West Bengal, India," Socioeconomics Program Working Papers 147204, CIMMYT: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
    2. Krishna, Vijesh V. & Mehrotra, Meera Bhatia & Teufel, Nils & Bishnoi, Dalip Kumar, 2012. "Characterizing the Cereal Systems and Identifying the Potential of Conservation Agriculture in South Asia," Socioeconomics Program Working Papers 147109, CIMMYT: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center.
    3. Cristian Timmermann & Georges FĂ©lix, 2015. "Agroecology as a vehicle for contributive justice," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 32(3), pages 523-538, September.
    4. repec:eee:agisys:v:159:y:2018:i:c:p:57-68 is not listed on IDEAS


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