[CSH Lecture Series #2]
Can Women’s Group Farms Outperform Individual Family Farms?

Event Details

Bina Agarwal

Professor of Development Economics and Environment, University of Manchester, UK and former Director and Professor, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi

Can Women’s Group Farms Outperform Individual Family Farms?

Abstract: In the global concern with food security, poverty, and sustainable livelihoods, rather little attention has been paid to the institutional transformation of agriculture. The debate on farm types has focused largely on small family farms vs. large commercial farms. Equally, few programmes for economically empowering rural women focus seriously on farming—the one occupation in which women in largely agrarian economies have most experience. In this context, two initiatives in the 2000s—in Kerala and Telangana—stand out, both because they sought to improve women’s livelihoods within agriculture itself, and because of the innovative institutional form they adopted, namely group farming. This could also potentially provide an alternative model of farming. Based on her primary surveys, Bina Agarwal examines whether pooling land, labour and capital and cultivating jointly, enables women farmers to overcome resource constraints and outperform individual family farmers in the same regions, in terms of productivity and profits. Moreover, given their different approaches, which state is more effective and why? The striking performance of Kerala’s all-women groups, especially in commercial crops, demonstrates the potential of this model of farming. It also challenges popular assumptions that group homogeneity is essential for successful collective action.


Speaker: Bina Agarwal teaches part time as Professor of Development Economics and Environment at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. She has been Director and Professor, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi; President, International Society for Ecological Economics; Vice-President, International Economic Association; and President, International Association for Feminist Economics. She has held distinguished positions at Harvard, Princeton, Cambridge, Michigan, Minnesota, and New York University School of Law. She has also served in an advisory capacity in several United Nations institutions and contributed to several of India’s Five Year Plans. She holds honorary doctorates from ISS, The Hague, and the University of Antwerp, Belgium; and is a member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy; The World Academy of Sciences; and lifetime fellow of the International Economic Association. Bina Agarwal has published 89 papers and 12 books, and written extensively on land and property rights, agrarian change, environmental governance, institutions, farmers’ cooperation, and inequality, especially from a political economy and gender perspective. Her recent books, both from Oxford University Press are: Gender and Green Governance (2010) and Gender Challenges (2016), a three volume compendium of her selected papers, covering Agriculture, Property, and the Environment respectively. She also writes for English language dailies. Her awards include the Edgar Graham Book Prize 1995; A.K. Coomaraswamy Book Prize 1996; Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for Development Studies 2002; Ramesh Chandra award for Agricultural Economics 2005; Padma Shri from the President of India 2008; Leontief Prize 2010 for advancing the frontiers of economic thought; Order of Agricultural Merit (officer) 2017, France; Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize 2017, France; and the International Balzan Prize 2017 (Italy and Switzerland).
Website: http://www.binaagarwal.com


More info:
sneha {dot} banerjee {at} csh-delhi {dot} com
julien  {dot}  levesque  {at}  csh-delhi  {dot}  com

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