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Collective action and marketing of underutilized plant species: The case of minor millets in Kolli Hills, Tamil Nadu, India

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  • Gruere, Guillaume P.
  • Nagarajan, Latha
  • King, E.D.I. Oliver

Abstract

"Minor millets are examples of underutilized plant species, being locally important but rarely traded internationally with an unexploited economic potential. In the Kolli hills of Tamil Nadu, India, a genetically diverse pool of minor millet varieties are grown by the tribal farming communities to meet their subsistence food needs. Most of these minor crops were not traded outside the farming community. Despite a consumption preference among the farming communities for minor millets, in the recent past the acreage under minor millet crops have declined considerably due to the availability of substitute cash crops. As a response, the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) based in Chennai has led targeted conservation cum commercialization intervention programs over the last 7-9 years in the Kolli Hills. In this paper we provide a first evaluation of the success of marketing development for minor millets in the Kolli Hills with a specific focus on collective action and group initiatives undertaken by the women and men self-help groups organized by the concerned non-governmental organization. We analyze the key collective actions that are taking place in the minor millet marketing chain through a series of field visits and focus group discussions with the stakeholders involved. We then compare the role of collective action in this new market with the case of marketing chains for cassava and organic pineapples, two cash crops with an expanding production in Kolli Hills. Our analysis shows the critical role of collective action and group initiative as a necessary but not sufficient condition for the successful commercialization of underutilized plant species for the benefit of the poor and the conservation of agrobiodiversity." authors' abstract

Suggested Citation

  • Gruere, Guillaume P. & Nagarajan, Latha & King, E.D.I. Oliver, 2007. "Collective action and marketing of underutilized plant species: The case of minor millets in Kolli Hills, Tamil Nadu, India," CAPRi working papers 69, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:worpps:69
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gruère, Guillaume & Giuliani, Alessandra & Smale, Melinda, 2006. "Marketing underutilized plant species for the benefit of the poor: a conceptual framework," EPTD discussion papers 154, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Nagarajan, Latha & Smale, Melinda, 2005. "Local seed systems and village-level determinants of millet crop diversity in marginal environments of India:," EPTD discussion papers 135, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    Cited by:

    1. Prabhakaran Raghu & Sukanya Das & S. Ravi & E.D.Israel King, 2013. "Assessing Farmer ’s Willingness to Participate in the On - farm Conservation of Minor Millet using Direct Compensation Payment," Working Papers id:5329, eSocialSciences.
    2. Pant, Dhruba, 2008. "Implications of bulk water transfer on local water management institutions: a case study of the Melamchi Water Supply Project in Nepal," IWMI Working Papers H041304, International Water Management Institute.
    3. Ratner, B. D., 2013. "Addressing conflict through collective action in natural resource management: a synthesis of experience," IWMI Working Papers H046235, International Water Management Institute.
    4. Raghu, Prabhakaran T. & Das, Sukanya & Ravi, S. Bala & King, E.D. Israel Oliver, 2012. "Use of Contingent Valuation to Assess Farmer Preference for On-farm Conservation of Minor Millets: Case from South India," Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, vol. 67(3), pages 1-14.
    5. Tenkasi Raghu, Prabhakaran & Das, Sukanya & S, Bala Ravi & E.D.I, Oliver King, 2012. "Assessing Farmer’s Willingness to Participate in the On-farm Conservation of Minor Millet using Direct Compensation Payment," MPRA Paper 45079, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Lauren Baker & Michael Dove & Dana Graef & Alder Keleman & David Kneas & Sarah Osterhoudt & Jeffrey Stoike, 2013. "Whose Diversity Counts? The Politics and Paradoxes of Modern Diversity," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(6), pages 1-24, June.
    7. Aravindakshan, Sreejith & Sherief, Aliyaru Kunju, 2010. "Connotation of minor millet biodiversity and indirect payments in tribal homesteads in the backdrop of climate change," MPRA Paper 28136, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Shiferaw, B., 2008. "Community watershed management in semi-arid India: the state of collective action and its effects on natural resources and rural livelihoods," IWMI Working Papers H043862, International Water Management Institute.

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    Keywords

    Collective action; Underutilized species; Agricultural marketing; Agrobiodiversity; Markets; Small farmers;
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