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Short training programme on Agroecology and Livelihoods

Date: January 2-4, 2018

About this course

Agrarian livelihoods in rural India are at crossroads, given the shrinking and degrading agricultural land and water, volatility in agricultural commodity markets and rising input costs. Unpredictable climate adds another layer of risk to farming communities who now need to cope with warmer temperatures, drier soils and fluctuations in rainfall. Karnataka, with 70% of its population dependent on agriculture is no exception to this grim situation. The state has witnessed a number of farmers’ suicides in the last decade, symptomatic of a mounting agrarian crisis.

Transposing technological solutions from developed world to increase agricultural productivity often ignoring complexity of agricultural systems in diverse agro-ecological and socio-economic contexts has resulted in perverse outcomes with far-reaching consequences on the sustainability of agrarian livelihoods. A whole-systems approach that is open to indigenous knowledge, alternative methods and local food systems can go a long way in mitigating the crisis. Such an approach must duly recognize the intrinsic links of agriculture with ecology, culture, economics and society to sustain agricultural production, healthy environments, and viable food and farming communities. Bringing out such a fundamental shift in agricultural practices requires appropriate responses at different governance levels and scales.

With their deep understanding of local ecological and sociocultural scenarios, Local Self Government (LSG) institutions are best equipped to steer agrarian communities towards sustainable and locally suited agricultural practices. Recognising the potential of people’s representatives and Panchayath Raj Institutions (PRI) to facilitate grass root level changes, Azim Premji University is organising a short training programme ‘Agrarian Ecology and Livelihoods’ targeting the North-Eastern Dry Zone of Karnataka comprising of Gulbarga, Yadgir and Raichur districts. The overall aim of the course is to enhance the capacity of peoples’ representatives at grass-roots, to address agrarian issues by exposing them to multiple dimensions of sustainable farm livelihoods.

How is this course relevant to local peoples’ representatives?

LSGs, especially Grama Panchayaths are expected to deliver various services at the village level including those in the domains of agriculture, forestry and environment. Schedule –1 of Amendment (2014) to Karnataka Panchayath Raj Act, 1993 envisages amongst others, a list of activities under Agriculture, Forestry and Environment sectors to be implemented by the Grama Panchayaths. Standing Committees and Sub-committees constituted for the purpose may draw upon the learnings from this course to incorporate sustainability concerns in visualizing programmes for agricultural production, local food security, land and water use, and biodiversity. With this course, participants will be encouraged to apply a sustainability lens while analysing challenges related to agrarian livelihoods and food security. The course will trace the agro- ecological and sociocultural evolution of food systems in the region and discuss the sustainability implications of present farming systems.

What participants will learn?

Participation in this course will help to

  • Appreciate the role of local agro-ecological and sociocultural contexts in shaping agricultural systems
  • Analyse the trends in cropping patterns and their implications for livelihoods and food security and sovereignty in your Panchayath
  • Delve deeper into what sustainability means to farming in your Panchayath
  • Assess and monitor agricultural sustainability using appropriate indicators
  • Recognise the role of institutions and interventions in propelling transitions towards agricultural sustainability
  • Understand the need and options for integrating sustainability perspectives into policies and programmes related to agriculture and food security.


The course will be delivered in Kannada. We will use a blended learning approach consisting of interactive presentations, group discussions, case studies, short videos and movies to stimulate discussion around the themes explored in the course.

Design and delivery of the course: Seema Purushothaman, Dhanya Bhaskar, Sheetal Patil and Krishna Kothai

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