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Ariza-Montobbio P.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Lele S.,Center for Environment and Development | Kallis G.,University of California at Berkeley | Martinez-Alier J.,Autonomous University of Barcelona
Journal of Peasant Studies | Year: 2010

Jatropha curcas is promoted internationally for its presumed agronomic viability in marginal lands, economic returns for small farmers, and lack of competition with food crops. However, empirical results from a study in southern India revealed that Jatropha cultivation, even on agricultural lands, is neither profitable, nor pro-poor. We use a political ecology framework to analyse both the discourse promoting Jatropha cultivation and its empirical consequences. We deconstruct the shaky premises of the dominant discourse of Jatropha as a 'pro-poor' and 'pro-wasteland' development crop, a discourse that paints a win-win picture between poverty alleviation, natural resource regeneration, and energy security goals. We then draw from fieldwork on Jatropha plantations in the state of Tamil Nadu to show how Jatropha cultivation favours resource-rich farmers, while possibly reinforcing existing processes of marginalisation of small and marginal farmers. © 2010 Taylor & Francis. Source

Thomas J.,Kerala University | Joseph S.,Kerala University | Thrivikramji K.P.,Center for Environment and Development
Applied Geochemistry | Year: 2015

River water chemistry of Pambar River Basin (PRB), draining a rain shadow region of the southern Western Ghats, India, with granite gneiss and hornblende-biotite-gneiss lithology, was monitored for three sampling seasons, such as monsoon (MON), post-monsoon (POM) and pre-monsoon (PRM) to ascertain the spatio-temporal trends in hydrochemistry. In PRB, upstream and downstream areas have differing climate (i.e., tropical-wet-dry/humid upstream, while semi-arid downstream) and land use (plantations and farmland dominate the upstream, while pristine forest environment covers the downstream). The hydrochemical attributes, except pH and K+, exhibit distinct temporal variation mainly due to monsoon-driven climatic seasonality. Relative abundance of cations between upstream and downstream samples of PRB shows noticeable differences, in that the upstream samples follow the order of abundance: Ca2+ >Mg2+ >Na+ >K+, while the downstream samples are in the order: Na+ >Mg2+ >Ca2+ >K+. Ca2+ +Mg2+/Na+ +K+, Si/Na+ +K+, Cl-/Na+ and HCO3 -/Ca2+ ratios suggest multiple sources/processes controlling hydrochemistry, e.g., atmospheric supply, silicate weathering, dissolution of carbonate minerals and soil evaporites as well as anthropogenic inputs (domestic and farm/plantation residues). Even though weathering of silicate and carbonate minerals is the major hydrochemical driver in both upstream and downstream portions of PRB, Gibbs diagram and scatter plot of Mg2+/Na+ vs. Mg2+/Ca2+ imply the importance of evaporation in the downstream hydrochemistry. Piper diagram and partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) values suggest that a groundwater dominated discharge exerts a significant control on the downstream hydrochemistry, irrespective of sampling season. Although spatial variability of rainfall in PRB shows a linear downstream (decreasing) trend, the best-fit model for the dissolved load suggests that the downstream hydrochemical variability in PRB (i.e., an increasing trend) follows a power function (f(x)=axk). This study suggests that climate has a significant role in the spatio-temporal variability of hydrochemistry in PRB. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Lele S.,Center for Environment and Development | Wilshusen P.,Bucknell University | Brockington D.,University of Manchester | Seidler R.,University of Massachusetts Boston | Bawa K.,University of Massachusetts Boston
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability | Year: 2010

The exclusionary protected area-based approach to biodiversity conservation has succeeded at several places, but at a significant social cost and conflict, especially in the developing country tropics. More inclusive approaches, including community-based conservation (CBC), its subset enterprise-based conservation (EBC), and payments-based conservation (PES) programs, have been tried in the past 15 years. A brief summary of the literature on socio-economic impacts of the exclusionary approach suggests that, although detailed studies and documentation is missing, impacts are significant, and the ethical argument against forced displacement quite strong. We then examine the potential of non-exclusionary approaches from a broader perspective that values biodiversity gains as well as socio-economic ones. Our review suggests that (a) comprehensive socio-ecological and comparative studies of such initiatives are surprisingly scarce, (b) enterprise-based conservation offers some potential if design flaws, poor implementation, assumptions about homogeneous communities, and inattention to tenurial change and security are addressed, (c) payments-based programs require caution because of their focus on economic efficiency, and simplified assumptions regarding the nature of rights, biological information, monitoring costs, and state interventions, and (d) the alternatives to exclusion have often not been given adequate state support and space to function, nor is the ongoing neoliberalization of the political-economic system conducive to giving them that space, except when they fit the direction of this larger process. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. Source

Wily L.A.,Center for Environment and Development
Development and Change | Year: 2011

The context of this article is the surge in large-scale land acquisitions of African lands by local and foreign investors for commercial food, livestock, oil palm and carbon trading purposes. Involuntary loss of rural lands at scale is not new to Africa's majority rural poor, nor is it driven by a single factor. Historically inequitable land relations within communities, compounded by a century of capitalist transformation, take their toll. This study argues, however, that the weak legal status of communal rights is the most pernicious enabler in their demise, allowing governments to take undue liberties with their citizens' lands, and particularly those which are unfarmed and by tradition held in common. While international acquiescence to abusive domestic law helps entrench the diminishment of majority land rights, the domestic laws themselves are principally at fault and necessarily the target for change. This legal vulnerability is explored here through an examination of more than twenty African land laws. © 2011 International Institute of Social Studies. Source

Ariza-Montobbio P.,Autonomous University of Barcelona | Lele S.,Center for Environment and Development
Ecological Economics | Year: 2010

Researchers, policy makers and civil society organizations have been discussing the potential of biofuels as partial substitutes for fossil fuels and thereby as a simultaneous solution for climate change and rural poverty. Research has highlighted the ambiguity of these claims across various dimensions and scales, focusing on ethanol-producing or oilseed crops in agricultural lands or Jatropha-type crops on common lands. We studied the agronomic and economic viability and livelihood impacts of Jatropha curcas plantations on private farms in Tamil Nadu, India. We found that Jatropha yields are much lower than expected and its cultivation is currently unviable, and even its potential viability is strongly determined by water access. On the whole, the crop impoverishes farmers, particularly the poorer and socially backward farmers. Jatropha cultivation therefore not only fails to alleviate poverty, but its aggressive and misguided promotion will generate conflict between the state and the farmers, between different socio-economic classes and even within households. The water demands of the crop can potentially exacerbate the conflicts and competition over water access in Tamil Nadu villages. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. Source

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