Social construction of “the farmer”

Who is a farmer? A person who makes a living growing crops for food? But, who is a farmer? What skills, qualifications, licenses, land titles, formal contracts must a person possess? The idea of “the farmer”—how we understand what he looks like, where she is from, even the types of crops that are acceptable to…

Coping with Development Pressure

Excerpt from an interview with a Delhi journalist from June 2014: Journalist: Many of these farmers live in the perpetual fear of being displaced because of floods and the ongoing development projects such as extension of a new elevated road and the construction of new metro line cutting right through their agricultural fields. How do you…

In the face of global food security

I am often asked about what I do–what I research. And my response is different each time. This is partly to tailor the subject so that it is relevant for the audience. But, the larger reason that my response varies is because of the complexity of what I do. I find it difficult to pare…

Communities Un-bounded

The focus of my dissertation research is to study and understand one “community” of farmers living/working on the Yamuna River floodplain in the urban center of Delhi facing land use changes due to urban development pressures. During the pilot study, we discovered that there are thousands of families involved in agriculture along the Yamuna River floodplain,…

Moving Beyond the Pilot Project

The daily decisions urban farmers make do not always align with their beliefs, knowledge, or the larger social-political context.  The discordance between intention and action is something behavioral scientists continue to observe, grapple with, and thoughtfully attempt to explain.  The short answer is that no one makes a decision in a bubble.  There are many…

Living for Today: Sustainability and Livelihoods

After many months chewing on the information we gathered in Delhi, the question that keeps nagging us is, what part of this, if any, is sustainable?  There seems to be a real disconnect between what we read in the literature about urban agriculture and what we saw on the ground with the farmers we worked…

Snapshot: A summary description of Yamuna farmers

The starting point for this project was simply to find out what is going on in terms of urban agriculture in Delhi on the ground and literally in the field.  As a brief description of what we found regarding basic characteristics, here is our summary: Our research was conducted with 35 farming families across eight…