Summaries from the Research Articles – “Agroecology, Small Scale Farming and Regional Development” Vol. 2 Nr. 2 (Winter 2014/15)

Sustainability of Small Scale Farming in a Mountain Region: Case Study of the Khaling Rai Population of the Solukhumbu, Nepal.

By Valerie Mary Burris

A study was undertaken to examine the assets that determine the livelihood sustainability of the Khaling Rai – a small tribal group living in a remote area of Nepal dependent on subsistence agriculture and coping with the characteristic mountain constraints of remoteness, marginality and fragility. This paper focusses on agriculture given that it is the key central livelihood strategy of the Khaling Rai.

The sustainable livelihood approach is the theoretical framework used to analyse the assets of the Khaling Rai. This approach examines the assets and livelihood strategies of the community at household level. It addresses the need to create livelihood strategies that maintain the natural resource base while being resistant to external shocks and stresses.   A survey conducted in 2004, was the main source of quantitative data about the assets that govern the livelihoods of the Khaling Rai. It involved a simple random cluster sample of 201 households in the Khali valley, in the district of Solukhumbu. This was supplemented by qualitative data from government agencies, multilateral institutions, NGOs, local associations and community leaders.

The local climate is determined by elevation and orientation. Altitude ranges from 1000m to 3000m.   Annual rainfall is around 2300mm with 78% of precipitation falling during the monsoon. The climate is suitable for growing summer and winter crops. The households farm on small scattered terraced plots. All of the respondent households own their land and the average holding is a fragmented 2.6ha divided into approximately twelve plots. The land is fertilized by dung collected from animals. Tools are simple and fashioned locally.

All respondent households possess some livestock: buffalo, cattle, goats, pigs and poultry. Excepting cattle, livestock holdings are less than those of the overall mountain ecological zone of Nepal.  Transhumance is practiced and cattle go to higher pastures during the monsoon season. The level of milk and meat produced falls short of basic needs level and there is very little trade in livestock.   The respondent households grow a wide variety of crops: in winter, wheat and barley and in summer maize, millet and potatoes. Rice is grown at lower altitudes. Vegetables are grown in household gardens and a minority of households cultivate soybeans and lentils. Seeds are saved for the following year’s crops. While there is wide variation in the output of crops, on average enough cereals and potatoes are produced to fulfil the dietary needs of the average respondent household of 5.5 persons. The majority of households trade locally with bartering as the preferred option. Approximately 10% of total grain output is sold for cash. The main marketing difficulties are distance from markets and low prices. Negative mountain specificities of isolation and inaccessibility hinder the spread of information about new farming technologies. Less than 4% of respondents ever had a visit from the farm extension services.

Bivariate analysis showed that total income is strongly correlated with crop output indicating the importance of subsistence agriculture to total income.   Household education levels are also significant: households strong in human capital – literacy and education – are significantly correlated with endowment of other assets such as livestock holdings and farm size thus illustrating that access to one type of capital usually gives access to others. Small scale farming fulfils a basic need of most of the respondent households which is food security: 75% of them had enough food. However, to overcome the limitations of their resource base, the following is recommended: firstly the formation of agricultural associations in the area and secondly, through them the selection of key personnel for training in the adoption of improved low cost technologies for staple crops and the introduction of appropriate new niche cash crops.

Integrated Livelihoods and Landscape Approach for Smallholders in Northern Thailand

By Angela Joehl Cadena, David Pond and Tawatchai Rattanasorn

Smallholder farmers are increasingly facing threats to their livelihoods due to climate change, environmental degradation and the un-sustainability of monoculture socio-ecological farming systems. This impacts on communities’ ability to develop from the resultant pressures on maintaining productivity and food security. An integrated approach implemented at the household and village level encompassing building resilience within the socio-ecological system aims to address poverty alleviation, landscape restoration and conservation outcomes. This approach was implemented by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in villages in northern Thailand.

The research implemented in the area demonstrates that household-level economy is inextricably linked to the wider socio-ecological system, and strategies for improvement must include all components of the system. Three main strategies are presented including landscape restoration, decentralised governance mechanisms and poverty reduction schemes. Activities within each strategy are interlinked and each provide co-benefits which contribute to the overall outcome. Increasing resilience in the ecological system meant shifting the focus of agricultural activities from a monoculture landscape to a mosaic matrix typical of an agro-ecological system. Intercropping and intensification of cropping areas was a key activity to increase household incomes by diversifying income streams and replicating the structure and diversity of forest areas. This was coupled with reforestation of degraded forest areas and implementation of bio-engineering projects which increases biodiversity, improves ecosystem function and services, and reduces erosion of fertile topsoil. The diversity and modularity of agro-ecological systems increases the ability of the socio-ecological system to absorb shock and maintain productivity. This is imperative given the potential losses from the impacts of severe weather on smallholder communities relying on mono-cultures.

Logistically, the employment of a decentralized, bottom-up governance approach was crucial in obtaining the trust and support of the local community. Specifically, these governance arrangements included implementation of land use planning schemes and stakeholder negotiation between villagers, district leaders and government departments. Also a trial policy relating to communal land rights was enacted in the project area which demonstrated communal land management and sovereignty. The methods utilized are site-specific, following research and interaction with local communities over the period of 7 years, hence they are considered to be highly sustainable over the long term. The case study demonstrates that an integrated approach viewing smallholder livelihoods in the context of processes occurring at the catchment-wide scale is important for understanding and implementing schemes which can contribute to poverty alleviation, conservation and landscape restoration.

 Small and Closed vs. Large and Open: Some Lessons from Comparing Cuban to Colombian Agricultural Development

By Brandon Scott Huson, Bernd Reiter, Maria Auxiliadora Gonzalez

In our paper we ask the question of what type of agricultural development model works the best. Different schools of thought on development offer different solutions and prescriptions for how countries should manage their agricultural sector. First, we identified the developmentalist or ‘integrationist’ schools of thought whose prescriptions for the agricultural sector require the opening of markets to investors, the promotion of large-scale production, and the marketization of production food chains echoing earlier promotions of the Green Revolution. Next, we examine more critical discussions of development that emphasize the need to promote small-holder production and which assume that at least a part of the problem with attaining the MDGs has been the overuse and promotion of the integrationist model of development. We chose to focus on agricultural development due to its importance in linking nation-states to the global market place and the centrality of agricultural development to achieving MDG 1, the elimination of extreme poverty and hunger. To run a test of separate development models, we identified the time period immediately following the announcement of the millennium development goals (2000-15) and did a comparison of the performance of two direct agricultural production models. The two countries selected were from Latin America, and represent two ends of the development spectrum, Cuba and Colombia. Cuba, which is a socialist country and who follows a small-farmer drive agricultural production strategy through the provisioning of land to communities of peasants and the active promotion of agroecology, represented a model of agricultural development based on critical theoretical approaches. Meanwhile, Colombia represented the model of an integrationist agricultural policy. Their promotion of private property, expanded foreign investment, and the shrinking of the small-farmer sector through massive displacement made It the perfect country to examine the impact of ‘integrationist’ development thinking to a nation-state. We collected data on indicators of human nutrition such as the food supply, the quantity of food consumption, and the rate of infant mortality in each country over the time period under examination (2000-2013). Comparing the two countries, we found that Cuba outperformed Colombia on every indicator. Ultimately this leads us to recommend that the promotion of small-farmer production is essential for rural development and the fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals.

Growing through Connections – Alternative Food Networks in Cluj-Napoca, Romania

By Josefin Smeds

Romania is an agrarian country with a third of the population occupied in agriculture, most of them smallholders (here referred to as peasants). Due to increased corporate concentration in the food sector, peasants are facing difficulties selling their produce. Alternative food networks (AFNs) have emerged, providing health-conscious consumers in the city with fresh, mostly organic, vegetables directly from a local peasant. These kinds of systems are embedding food provisioning in social relations, reclaiming socio-cultural aspects of agri-food and contributing to a (re)peasantisation process, although challenged by unfavorable national and EU policies.

 In different places in the world, a diverse range of local solutions for providing food are sprouting. These strategies often focus intrinsically on sustainability and health and can be seen as a response to the conventional food system (CFS) which many scholars recognise as unable to effectively deal with converging global challenges. The growth of the CFS, as well as alternative solutions, can be seen in Romania, where half the land is owned by peasants, using traditional practices with a high level of diversity. Such alternative solutions can be in the form of CSA, where producers and consumers share the risks of the production, and direct selling vegetable box schemes, where producers sell their produce through subscriptions directly to consumers.

The two AFNs included in this study, Asociația pentru Susținerea Agriculturii Țărănești (ASAT) and Cutia Ţăranului (CT), both accommodate to consumers’ need for tasty, good quality, and local produce and producers’ need for a more secure and rewarding market. CT consumers are more satisfied with their network, but ASAT might be a more transformational mode of food provisioning, through a clear focus on community and solidarity. Potential conflicts lie in issues regarding food quantity, the delivery system, unequal power relations, and inclusiveness. A major synergy is the idea of quality produce being closely tied to peasant production, a factor which assists in strengthening producer-consumer relations, especially within CT. Thus, although challenged by disadvantageous trends on national and EU levels, the networks can play an important role in creating strong alliances between producers and consumers.

The AFNs also highlight socio-cultural aspects of agri-food, which can serve to position the AFNs as qualitatively different from the CFS. In CT and ASAT, this happens through producers expressing pride in providing urban citizens with food, consumers seeing peasants as an important part of the Romanian identity and through the focus on community and solidarity. Similarly, these AFNs can be seen as part of (re)peasantisation process, whereby the autonomy of peasants is increased. However, it is important to consider how alternative practices can build connections between each other so as to constitute a more significant counter-force to the CFS and the trend of depeasantisation.

ASAT and CT provide benefits for both consumers and producers and can also have broader socio-ecological benefits considering the intrinsic focus on sustainability and health. The direct connections between the involved actors are interesting since they seem to be deepening a sense of co-dependence, solidarity, and community. Local responses to the limitations of the CFS are developing in various places around the world and studying how these innovative practices can emerge, be sustained and developed, can provide important insights on sustainable solutions for food and agriculture. For future research it could be relevant to look into to what extent initiatives like ASAT and CT can or should explicitly challenge the CFS, considering that alternative solutions may have limited prospects if the CFS increases its dominance.

Political Economy of Global Rush for Agricultural Land: a Tract on India’s Overseas Acquisitions

By Santosh Verma

Land acquisition is not a new phenomenon, but historically, it continues in its structural designing from feudalism and pre-capitalism to its current capitalist oligarchy where neo-liberal market based system and financialization of the economies have been at the helm of the State affairs. The land acquisition, at the current juncture, is significantly due to the ongoing economic recession, devastated securities markets and muddled investors’ faith in the hedge funds. To evade these involved risks, the MNCs from the developed and developing countries via speculation in the agricultural commodity markets through controlling agricultural activities directly and creating its own value chains for trade in agribusiness and to accumulate capital.

The current run for land acquisition in the developing countries can also be ascribed to the crisis of capitalism in itself and its inherent tendency to monopolize resources. The sway of land acquisition if allowed, due to crisis in capitalism, it will destroy the existing agricultural structure: the small and medium scale farming, its biodiversity, land relations and its ownership structure. It converts the self-sustenance based agriculture to the dependence on market for food and export based large scale production chain for profit resulting into loss of employment, livelihood and sovereignty of the natives.

These continuous pressures on livelihoods and sovereignty to the indigenous communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America have produced a number of violent movements to save agriculture as a right of the locals. Bowing to these movements, governments in many of the developing countries have canceled land agreements with the MNCs. Still, the rush to the land under current circumstances gives several reasons to conclude that it is a process of neo-colonialism where several ex-colonies like India and China with the help of their MNCs are on the land hunt for their own benefit at the cost of the lives of the people whose land is being acquired.

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Summaries from the Research Articles – “Water for Food” Vol. 2 Nr. 1 (Summer 2014)

Scholarly communication has evolved over the centuries as technology has made it easier to promote and discuss ideas. Printing has overtaken hand-written documents; edited journals have overtaken monographs; and international conferences have overtaken national gatherings. These blog posts follow in that same tradition — presenting ideas in a more accessible format, to a larger audience. We hope that these posts inform you of their author’s research findings and invite you to give your thoughts on the posts or the articles that inspired them. Please join with your comments in this forum.

Dr. David Zetland*

– Guest Editor in the Summary Section-
Assistant Professor, Economics
Leiden University College
The Netherlands

* Member of  the Editorial Board, Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture and Society

Summary 1 (Vol. 2 Nr. 1 – Summer 2014)

Connecting the Water and Carbon Cycles for the Generation of Food Security and Ecosystem Services

by Shivaan Burke and Raul Poncé-Hernandez,

Water scarcity remains one of the primary driving forces behind poverty, especially in the developing world. Largely a problem of distribution exacerbated by the poor’s lack of social power and access to resources, water scarcity contributes to many symptoms of poverty, the most critical of which is food insecurity (Ahmad, 2003). The main cause of water scarcity is the uneven distribution of fresh water resources, compounded by inefficient water use, pollution of threatened water resources and unsustainable waste and resource management.

Poverty is more prevalent in the developing world and, in countries and regions with arid and semi-arid climates, water scarcity acts as the main limiting factor in biomass production, which contributes to lower crop yields and food insecurity. A paradigm for the connection between the water and the carbon cycles is illustrated in this paper through the study of an irrigated, peri-urban agroforestry system at “La Huerta” in Texcoco, Mexico, a semi-arid area in South Central Mexico.  The WaNuLCAS model (a model of Water, Nutrient and Light Capture in Agroforestry Systems, Van Noordwijk et al, 2011) is used to simulate the growth of crops and trees in an agroforestry system using the site conditions observed at La Huerta for model parameterization. Interactions taking place within the agroforestry system that are most influential include shading by trees, competition for water and nutrients in topsoil, increased nitrogen availability to crop roots and long term effects on soil organic matter, erosion and soil compaction. Emphasis is placed on below-ground interactions where competition for water and nutrients is based on the effective root length densities of trees and crops and demand by both plant components (Van Noordwijk et al, 2011). In order to simulate waste water irrigation conditions at the agroforestry site reference values for water quality in the nearby Rio Texcoco were used for nutrient input values (Vazquez et al, 2007).

Water from the Rio Texcoco is commonly used for irrigation of adjacent agricultural crops but is not transported to agroforestry systems in the region. The performance of the systems in terms of carbon accrual (g/m2) is compared based on a number of above- and below-ground carbon pools, namely: soil organic matter (SOM), tree biomass, harvested crop biomass, total carbon stocks and the resultant global warming effect of the entire system. Modelling results show a much greater, even erratic variability in biomass accrual under conditions of water scarcity. Under waste water irrigation the production of biomass, SOM and crop yields not only increases, but is also more sustained throughout the simulation period. As the agroforestry system matures these increases, relative to the rain fed scenario, become more significant. By increasing crop yields this type of land-use management improves food security at the household and community level, while offering farmers the opportunity to sell surplus goods at market to supplement household income. While the sale of farm goods is the most common method of farm income generation the production of ecosystem services, namely carbon sequestration, is a tangible way for farmers to diversify their income while improving the production performance of their farm (Wise and Cacho, 2007). The results in this paper show clearly that enhanced food security and increased global warming mitigation can be synergistically achieved by connecting the water cycle to the carbon cycle using waste water irrigated agroforestry systems.  While agricultural intensification and mechanisation can achieve increased crop yield in a monocropping system, indigenous agroforestry systems take advantage of the natural and successional variability of an area to generate a sustained and diverse array of products (Alcorn, 1990). In this way, agroforestry as a small-scale farming practice can help to maximize resource use efficiency with respect to scarce natural resources (i.e. water, land, soil nutrients).  This paper demonstrates that the water and carbon cycles can be effectively and efficiently connected to advantage, and that such systems can materialize, even under various conditions of water scarcity.

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Uniform Resource Name Code  urn:nbn:de:hebis:34-2014062645548

Photo credit :-Sisira Withanachchi



Summary 2 (Vol. 2 Nr. 1 – Summer 2014)

Climate-adaptive Community Water Management for Food Security: Experiences from the UNDP Community Water Initiative

by Sulan Chen, Katharina Davis

Facing the double menace of climate change threats and water crisis, poor communities are now encountering ever more severe challenges in ensuring agricultural productivity and food security. Hence, communities have to manage these challenges by adopting a comprehensive approach that not only enhances water resource management, but also adapts agricultural activities to climate variability. Implemented by the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Community Water Initiative (CWI) has adopted a distinctive approach to support demand-driven, innovative, low cost and community-based water resource management for food security.

This paper shows that a grassroots-level programme such as the CWI can be an effective way to address the complex interconnections between water, climate, and agriculture in rural communities.  The success stems from the custom-tailored design of local water management solutions, which take into account the specific context in which the community operates and uses water. Four cases of community-based water management for agriculture are presented and analysed for future learning and replication. The first case shows how the Pollattawa village near the Sigirya World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka revitalized an ancient irrigation scheme by combining it with modern technologies. This has enabled the community to replenish the watershed area, develop traditional farming and expand into alternative livelihood activities through the sale of agricultural products. In Mauritania, a community project created safe and sustainable drinking water sources in a pastoral community. A number of mini-dams and rock lines on the gently sloping land were constructed to conserve water and soil and promote the recharging of groundwater. Two wells were rehabilitated and two new wells were constructed, which improved domestic and agricultural water use.  Newly built troughs for the animals improved watering for the animals and hygienic conditions within the community.

A CWI project in the highlands of Guatemala, implemented a gravity-fed water scheme by tapping four local springs, supplying drinking water to all households in the community. In addition, soil preservation and reforestation activities contributed to the rehabilitation of the local watershed area. Improved availability of water allowed the community to grow enough food to move beyond subsistence and sell the surplus on the local market. And finally, in a small village in south-western Mali, a CWI project supported a community in rehabilitating a dam to overcome devastating water shortages.  By expanding the initial small dam and increasing the storage capacity, the community achieved sustainable access to water and expand farming activities into counter-seasonal gardening, which boosted local food security.As these cases have illustrated, experiences from CWI show that a comprehensive, locally adapted approach that integrates water resources management, poverty reduction, climate adaptation and community empowerment provides a good model for food security and sustainable development in poor rural areas.

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Uniform Resource Name Code  urn:nbn:de:hebis:34-2014062645552

Photo credit:- Sulan Chen, Katharina Davis


Summary 3 (Vol. 2 Nr. 1 – Summer 2014)

Wastewater Treatment Project for Palma Soriano, Cuba: Assessment of Cultural and Ecological Conditions

by  Daniela Pena Corvillon

The Palma Soriano’s Wastewater Treatment Project is a proposal to use cultural identity as a trigger to reverse ecological degradation. The research methodology draws from environmental, social and urban analyses to unveil the best strategy to address the ecological, river restoration, agricultural, and water treatment challenges in Palma Soriano, southeast Cuba. This article explores some of the dilemmas that arise when the human need for water quality and food overpowers the ability of the natural ecosystem to support the demands. The primary objectives are to provide a better quality of life and to create new opportunities for the local community to reconnect with natural cycles of water and the cultivation of their own land. The research shows that stopping the processes of desertification combined with forest restoration of the upper of the Cauto River, where Palma Soriano is located, is critical to the achievement of these objectives.  The research is presented in the context of ecological design – an emerging framework for re-envisioning the built environment in terms that encourage the dynamic, positive, and mutually beneficial interaction between humans and the ecological world (Mozingo, 1997).

The research project promotes the strength and capacity of local people to protect their own environment by proposing a community-based master plan for public spaces, cultivation areas, new sanitary and storm water treatment infrastructure, and restored natural landscapes on the Cauto River. It is also a proposal for re-imagining the complex web of interactions among people, the built human environment, community identity, urban agriculture, and the supporting natural ecosystem.  The project includes natural wastewater treatment, reforestation, community urban agriculture and a public commons along the river. This project will produce healthy water recycling, provide a potable water source for the city, encourage ecological restoration of the riparian zone, and provide new opportunities for food production. In order to achieve such a solution, this paper first identifies a potential community and environmental problem. Second, it develops an analysis of the area and recognizes the main problem. Third, it presents an integral solution of the problem. And finally discuss this specific project in relation with a global context, and evaluate the solution proposed as a solution for other areas that have affected by similar social and environmental injustices. The research project also uses a socio-metabolic perspective on the “end of the pipe” issues of water quality and social disadvantage (Martinez-Alier et al., 2010), understanding “social metabolism” as the manner in which human societies organize their exchanges of materials and energy with the environment (Fischer-Kowalski, 1997; Martinez-Alier, 2009). It is a solution that can take over essential and humanistic ways of connection between humans and their environment. In this way, water management, and specifically wastewater treatment, would be a solution to bringing together communities reclaiming a clean environment, and promoting a respectful and conscience social metabolism of exchanges with the environment (Fischer-Kowalski, 1997; Martinez-Alier, 2009).

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Uniform Resource Name Code  urn:nbn:de:hebis:34-2014062645560

Photo credit:- Daniela Pena Corvillon


Summary 4 (Vol. 2 Nr. 1 – Summer 2014)

Indigenous Knowledge (IK) of Water Resources Management in West Sumatra, Indonesia

by Wahyudi David & Angelika Ploeger

Water scarcity is one of the most pressing development challenges of the early 21st century. Future generation seems to be those who at the end will have to bear the negative consequence due to the lower access to clean water. According to FAO, agricultural water withdrawal account for nearly 70 % or total global water demand. Clean Water demand management is defined as any actions that reduce the amount of water used or enable water to be used more efficiently. The interesting study about traditional water resources management was done at Padang Laweh Malalo (NPLM) in West Sumatera Indonesia. People in NPLM not only manage their water supply but adapted to the climate change as well. The study was conducted by using participatory rural appraisal (PRA) which is including observation and discussion with local people. The combination of in depth interview, life history, semi structure questionnaire and expert interview was implemented. The interesting result shows that the awareness of the people with the scarcity of water condition has allowed them to face these challenges with wisdom. Aia Adat (where as water controlled and regulate by custom) is one of their strategies to distribute the water fairly to the farmers. The general rule of this irrigation is water will flow from 6 pm – 6 am regularly to all farm land under supervision of kapalo banda (someone chosen by the community). There is a meeting among farmer before cultivation begins, to discuss which crop should be rotated and how much water is needed. Therefore, they have two kind of cultivation calendar; tahun gadang (fourteen month with three time harvest) and a regular calendar. The study may be helpful for other farmers to learn how local wisdom dealing with water scarcity. The improvement on water management system can be come from local knowledge without sophisticated technology.

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Uniform Resource Name Code urn:nbn:de:hebis:34-2014062645576

Photo credit:-  Tanti Ruwani (Flickr)


Summary 5 (Vol. 2 Nr. 1 – Summer 2014)

Water Resource Pollution and Impacts on the local livelihood: A case study of Beas River in Kullu District, India

by P. Ranjan Mishra and R.K Nadda

Rivers are considered as the life line of any country since they make water available for our domestic, industrial and recreational functions. The quality of river water signifies the health status and hygienic aspects of a particular region, but the quality of these life lines is continuously deteriorating due to discharge of sewage, garbage and industrial effluents into them. Water demand has increased manifolds due to the increased population, therefore tangible efforts to make water sources free from pollution is catching attention all across the globe.  This paper attempts to highlight the trends in water quality change of River Beas, right from Manali to Larji in India. This is an important river in the state of Himachal Pradesh and caters to the need of water for Manali and Kullu townships, besides other surrounding rural areas. The recent trends in increased human activities have impacted the water quality of this important river to a great extent. The level of sediments and pollution is increasing day by day and so the quality of the water is deteriorating. The problem of degradation of Beas River seems to lie on so called ‘tourism and urbanization’ with complete disregard of the environmental, cultural and religious significance of the river. The Manali-Larji Beas river stretch is exposed to the flow of sewage, garbage and muck resulting from various project activities, thereby making it vulnerable to pollution. In addition, the influx of thousands of tourists to these towns also contributes to the pollution load by their recreational and other tourist related activities. Pollution of this river has ultimately affected the livelihood of the local population of this region who are dependent on tourism and fishery business. Hence, water quality monitoring was carried out for the said stretch between January, 2010 and January, 2012 at 15 various locations on a quarterly basis, right from the upstream of Manali town and up to downstream of Larji dam. Temperature, colour, odor, D.O. pH, BOD, TSS, TC and FC has been the parameters that were studied.

The study confirms presence of increased level of Total Coliform and Faecal Coliform during the studied months which is indicative of the fact that the river receives untreated or partially treated sewage. The above statements justify the impression that water of River Beas is not fit for drinking and even for bathing in the study area vis-a’-vis water quality standards set by Central Pollution Control Board. It is feared that if the present trend of pollution continues the livelihood of people depending on tourism may be endangered as the surrounding may lose its recreational importance. However, the State Pollution Control Board has issued orders to some hotels in Kullu-Manali that water and electricity supply will be cut leading to a closure on causing pollution in Beas River. The National Green Tribunal had made it clear that whosoever is found throwing or dumping any such material or effluents directly or indirectly into river Beas or its tributaries or even at its banks, will have to pay a sum of USD 1500 as compensation on the basis of “polluter pays” principle. This seems to be a good sign for the future of Beas River in general and the livelihood of people in particular who depend on the quality of water e.g., fishermen, horticulturists, agriculturists and adventure operators.

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Uniform Resource Name Code urn:nbn:de:hebis:34-2014062645581

Photo credit:-  D. J Singh

Summary 6 (Vol. 2 Nr. 1 – Summer 2014)

Summary of “Survey of Agricultural Practices and Alternatives to Pesticide Use to Conserve Water Resources in the Mojanda Watershed, Ecuador”

by Lukas Schütz

Agriculture in the Mojanda Watershed is facing rainfall reductions caused by climate change. Reductions of water availability in the Watershed are further strengthened by constant extension of the agricultural activities into the páramo ecosystem above 3000m a.s.l., with this ecosystem having immanently important functions in the local water balance. The application of pesticides threatens the quality of water and with less precipitation contaminations will further concentrate in the outflow. To analyze problems associated with agricultural practices in the area a questionnaire about agricultural practices (28) was conducted and fields (20) were surveyed for pests and diseases with a focus on potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) as a traditional crop with good marketability, tree tomatoes (Solanum betaceum Cav.) as a newly introduced cash crop and peas (Pisum sativum L.) as a legume with minor marketbility. Potatoes were infected to a low degree with Phytophthora infestans and according to the farmers the Andean potato weevil (Premnotrypes spec.) caused biggest losses. To combat the weevil the soils are disinfected with highly toxic Carbofuran (WHO Class IB) and fungicides are sprayed on a regular basis against late blight. Tree tomatoes showed symptoms of various fungal diseases. Most important was Fusarium solani causing the branches to rot and Anthracnosis (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) causing the fruits to rot. Fungicide applications were correspondingly high. Peas were only minorly affected by Ascochyta blight (Mycosphaerella pinodes) and an unidentified root rot. Overall 19 active ingredients were applied of which fungicide Mancozeb (WHO class table 5) and insecticide Carbofuran (WHO Class IB) were applied the most. IPM methods like the economic threshold of each pest to time application of pesticides, the planting of resistant varieties and a proper crop rotation are promising to reduce pesticide use. For tree tomatoes regular cutting of branches infected with F. solani and regular collection and disposal of infected fruits with Anthracnosis are advised. For potato plastic barriers around the fields, as published by Kuschel et al. in 2009, limit the movement of the Andean potato weevil and prevent them from laying eggs at the base of the plant thus reducing infestation with the larvae in the tubers.

Local bioinsecticide “Biol”, composed of several herbs, is regarded as effective by the farmers and without harm to the environment. It is however used by only a few farmers. A decrease in soil fertility was identified by the farmers. Increasing the application of organic fertilizers promises reestablishment of soil fertility, increase in water holding capacity and reduction of erosion. Traditional adobe walls reduce erosion as well and are a habitat for wild bees, however they are not being constructed anymore. As the slope can be quite high, the construction of terraces is another strategy to increase the water retention. Resources and programs which allow for IPM principles and water management strategies to be implemented need to be made available to the farmers. The newly established extension service programs of the Ecuadorian Government, “Schools of the Agrarian Revolution” (ERA) are aimed at reaching smallholders and reducing poverty, and should focus on IPM methods for improving agricultural practices to solve local environmental problems. The here presented study seeks out alternatives and strategies to reduce pesticide use and manage water resources, which pose an opportunity to conserve the water resources of the region.

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Uniform Resource Name Code urn:nbn:de:hebis:34-2014062645593

Photo credit:- FAO – ALC


Summary 7 (Vol. 2 Nr. 1 – Summer 2014)

Drinking water issues in Rural India: Need for stakeholders’ participation in Water resources management

by S. Lalitha and P. M Vetha Siromony

Water is a very essential livelihood for mankind. India is blessed with abundant natural resources especially water, which are used for various purposes predominantly agricultural followed by domestic and industrial purposes. India’s water resources significantly dependent on monsoon rains; but at the same time, the country has a big population, large area of irrigated agriculture land and considerable industrial operation which generates high demand for water. The United Nations suggest that each person needs 20-50 litres of water a day to ensure basic needs of drinking, cooking and cleaning. It was also endorsed by the Indian National Water Policy 2002, with the provision that adequate safe drinking water facilities should be provided to the entire population both in urban and in rural areas. About 1.42 million rural habitations in India are affected by chemical contamination.

The provision of clean drinking water has been given priority in the Constitution of India, in Article 47 conferring the duty of providing clean drinking water and improving public health standards to the State. Excessive dependence of ground water results in depletion of ground water, water contamination and water borne diseases. Thus, access to safe and reliable water supply is one of the serious concerns in rural water supply programme. Though government has taken certain serious steps in addressing the drinking water issues in rural areas, still there is a huge gap between demand and supply. The Draft National Water Policy 2012 also states that Water quality and quantity are interlinked and need to be managed in an integrated manner and with Stakeholder participation. Water Resources Management aims at optimizing the available natural water flows, including surface water and groundwater, to satisfy competing needs. The World Bank also emphasizes managing water resources, strengthening institutions, identifying and implementing measures of improving water governance and increasing the efficiency of water use.

In rural India water resources management is only possible with stakeholders’ participation. Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) are the local governing authorities who play a vital role in enhancing community participation at village levels.  Therefore stakeholders’ participation is viewed important in managing water resources at different levels and range. A research study conducted by the first author on “Water Governance Practices in Thiruvallur District Tamil Nadu” reveals that the stakeholders need to be given information, education and communication (IEC) and training on water resources management. The local governing authorities and community based organizations play a pivotal role in service delivery and rejuvenation of the water resources. The observation of world water day would create awareness among the community on water scarcity and a need for water management. Government must change its role from service provider to the facilitator to involve stakeholders’ participation. The community needs to be empowered through capacity building training programmes by trained personnel’s like community development specialists to understand the water related issues and act collectively towards water resources management.

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Uniform Resource Name Code urn:nbn:de:hebis:34-2014062645601

Photo credit:-  Daniel Bachhuber

Summary 8 (Vol. 2 Nr. 1 – Summer 2014)

Wastewater usage in urban and peri-urban agricultural production systems: scenarios from India

by Prem Jose Vazhacharickal and Sumita Gupta Gangopadhyay

The role urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) plays in reducing urban poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability was recognized by the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs). India is the world’s largest democratic nation with a population of 1.2 billion. The rapid urbanization and high proportion of people below the poverty line along with higher migration to urban areas make India vulnerable to food crisis and urbanization of poverty. Ensuring jobs and food security among urban poor is a major challenge in India. The role of UPA can be well explained and understood in this context. This paper focuses on the current situation of UPA production in India with special attention to wastewater irrigation. This question is being posed about the various human health risks from wastewater irrigation which are faced by farmers and labourers, and, secondly by consumers. The possible health hazards involve microbial pathogens as well as helminth (intestinal parasites). Based on primary and secondary data, this paper attempts to confirm that UPA is one of the best options to address increasing urban food demand. Ensuring jobs and food security among the urban poor is a major challenge in underdeveloped and developing countries. Urban and peri-urban agriculture is one of the best options to address increasing urban food demand and can complement rural supply chains and reduce ecological foot prints. The growing water demands and release of untreated wastewater pose a big challenge to environmental sustainability. Irrigation with wastewater is a reality and common practice in India. However, the possible health risks associated with them should receive attention from the policy makers and stakeholders. An integrated approach with suitable risk reduction mechanism would improve the efficiency and safety of these UPA production systems which can be called “Good practice urban and peri‑urban agriculture”.

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Uniform Resource Name Code urn:nbn:de:hebis:34-2014062645610

Photo credit:- Prem Jose Vazhacharickal




Publishing Research in Sustainable Change since 2012.