The Open University has been awarded £50,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under the new Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) initiative to research the responses of small and marginal farmers in South India to food security, biodiversity, and climate challenges.
Led by Dr Sandip Hazareesingh, Director of the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies in the OU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the 12-month pilot project, Changing Farming Lives in South India, Past and Present, will explore the potential of various aspects of history, film, and sound to document and support farmers’ attempts to build resilience to these challenges.
Dr Hazareesingh says: “Climate change affects biodiversity based crop cultivation and this can have a significant impact on smallholders’ food security. But this has also happened in the past to some extent, so by recovering historical accounts of resilience in the context of a local fragile ecosystem, the project can help strengthen farmers’ good livelihood strategies across South India, and indeed, in other similar contexts across the world. It is particularly important in my view, to put history back into development issues and debates.”
The project will be carried out in collaboration with a Karnataka-based NGO, Green Foundation, which works with local smallholders to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable agriculture. Other UK-based researchers involved in the project are Ms Tsveti Bandakova (University of Edinburgh), Dr Heid Jerstad (University of Edinburgh), Ms Sara Penryn Jones (Bath Spa University), Dr Tom Wakemore (Coventry University), and Dr Mike Wilson (Loughborough University).