To develop agrobiodiversity for sustainability, BioDIVA bases its analysis on the integration and synthesis of different theoretical strands: Spatial analysis of land use change and agro-ecology are joined by institutional analysis, agro-economics, rural sociology and gender studies.
Land use change is driven by a combination of factors leading to rising conflicts of unsustainable resource use. Related land cover changes result in changes of ecosystem goods and services significantly affecting key aspects of earth system functions through e.g. deforestation, local and regional climate change, loss of biodiversity, soil degradation and water contamination. Processes of land use change and landscape transformation are jointly determined by local resources and processes at higher levels of organization. These are interrelated by multiple biophysical and socio-economic driving forces resulting in a complex multi-scale system.
Contact: Dr. Nidhi Nagabhatla
Agrobiodiversity is influenced by formal rules and regulations at central government level such as the Indian Biodiversity Act 2002, but also by local agricultural politics. At the same time informal ways of maintaining the seed system or building advocacy coalitions regulate the state of agrobiodiversity. These multilevel arrangements of intended and emerging institutions govern the use, conservation and loss of agrobiodiversity in rice.
Focusing on sustainability and gender, the study contributes to an emerging knowledge base in field of policy for agrobiodiversity by analysing institutional policy delivery and the effects on inter- and intragenerational distribution. Agrobiodiversity conservation works best in situ, therefore production is ultimately linked with reproduction and conservation.
Contact: Martina Padmanabhan
Agrobiodiversity loss in Wayanad is advanced by a shift from cultivation of local rice varieties to commercial plantations. When costs of rice cultivation overtake the benefits, many farmers bow to economic considerations and look for alternatives. However, the preferences for short term advantages against long term ecological and social benefits drive genetic erosion and unsustainable use of ecosystems. Institutions’ failure to understand the risks of underestimating ecosystem services and shortcomings in environmental protection are pervasive in the research area.
The economics subproject examines rice land use change and its impact on the livelihood, income, welfare and employment of the rural poor. The decision making behaviour of the farmers in land area allocation and land use change will be also addressed.
The major factors that drive transformation of rice farming systems in Wayanad are the conversion of rice fields for the cultivation of cash crops such as banana, areca nut, and ginger. In addition, changed and intensified paddy cultivation practices i.e. use of high yielding varieties, fertilizers and pesticides compound the current scenario in Wayanad.
The subproject Agroecology captures the consequences of these transformations with respect to floral and faunal diversity patterns. On the one hand it seeks to understand the effects of different management practices and the influence of land use change on faunal diversity with special focus on spiders. Moreover the relative importance of management vs. landscape effects will be assessed. On the other hand it focuses on the composition of the plant diversity associated with rice fields in different agro-ecological units of Wayanad and its variation along the gradient of agricultural intensification and land use change. Furthermore plant-spider-interactions in paddy fields are investigated.
The aim of this project is to investigate the social organisation of gender-specific knowledge, values and interests in the use of agrobiodiversity. Central to this research is to understand the ways in which agrarian and social changes constitute each other while focusing on the transformations of gender relations on micro level. Using feminist epistemologies and qualitative methods, this research focuses on two overarching questions:
- How do adivasi (indigenous) women and men describe changes in agriculture?
- What are the social and gendered implications of land use change?
The subproject contributes to the interdisciplinary approaches to identify and document informal knowledge of male and female farmers, mostly indigenous, who are undergoing social-ecological transformation processes.