Connotation of minor millet biodiversity and indirect payments in tribal homesteads in the backdrop of climate change
Unscathed agrobiodiversity remaining in-situ today is found on the small-scale farms and homestead gardens of poorer and developing countries (Brookfield, 2001). The indigenous traditional farming of Muthuvan tribe as the case of Finger millet or Ragi (Eleusine coracana), a minor millet cultivated in the Western Ghats in Kerala in the Indian South is one such classic example for in-situ agrobiodiversity management, based on organic farming systems. On such fields, the use of labour intensive, traditional production techniques have persisted throughout the period of controlled state farming and the market based large-scale farming. The homestead gardens close to fringes of ‘South Western Ghats-the hotspot of biodiversity’ also play a crucial role in tribalistic context, by contributing to the rural livelihoods in time periods and locations when markets or state institutions do not. This paper attempts to analyse the opportunity costs of minor millet cultivation incurred by indigenous tribe in scheming compensations for biodiversity conservation. It further discusses possibilities to deliver a tangible and hopeful alternative towards sustainable livelihood in the backdrop of climate change. The methodology involves use of ‘Switching Regression model’ in the estimation and comprehension of opportunity costs, and further looks at its relevance in traditional farming of underutilised minor millets in the tribal homesteads and is equated in terms of indirect payment for biodiversity conservation. The analysis of results concludes the importance of creating incentives for the conservation of agrobiodiversity, especially the on-farm diversity of underutilised crops and supporting poverty alleviation, and preventing welfare losses among vulnerable communities.
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