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Agricultural Transformation as a Window to Rehabilitation of Common Property Resources

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: White, R.; Bhuchar, S. K.; Sthapit, K. M.; Dhakal, M.
Conference: Survival of the Commons: Mounting Challenges and New Realities, the Eleventh Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bali, Indonesia
Conf. Date: June 19-23, 2006
Date: 2006
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/1263
Sector: Agriculture
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources--case studies
agrarian reform--case studies
land tenure and use--case studies
Himalayas
watersheds
environmental degradation--case studies
water resources--case studies
community forestry--case studies
soil--case studies
Abstract: "During the last nine years the ICIMOD-coordinated project (People and Resource Dynamics in Mountain Watersheds of the Hindu Kush Himalayas - PARDYP) has looked at natural resource management dynamics in five watersheds of the 'middle mountains' in four countries of the Himalayas. The project identified the centrality of people and the factors influencing their land usage systems, along with the holistic treatment of natural resources, as a key essential step in management of watershed as an integrated pool of resources. Initial baseline surveys of the watersheds helped in understanding major socioeconomic and biophysical constraints to sustainable crop productions and improved livelihoods. Many of the issues thought to be the key issues at the beginning of the project, such as flooding, soil erosion, etc., turned out to be of less importance than other issues such as loss of soil fertility and crop productivity, reduced low season stream flows. The biophysical research allowed some initial opportunities to explore sustainable use of natural resources, including the common property resources (CPRs) as well as private lands. It was recognized that to be able to promote community participation to address the above problems, it was necessary to provide tangible private economic benefits to individual farmers. "The paper presents a number of case studies on rehabilitating degraded community lands in India and Nepal. In both cases understanding the people-dimension proved to be of far greater importance than the biophysical measurements and technical solutions. Examples include community forests in Nepal and degraded village lands that were developed into fodder banks in India. Scarcity of water in the dry season is an increasing problem in the middle mountains as increased demand exceeds the supply. Case studies from India and Nepal show that communities if made aware of the possibilities and given the confidence to develop their ideas can improve and effectively manage water sources. "Farmers in the study watersheds participated in the conservation and protection of CPRs because of their contributions to improved agricultural production options. They were either introduced or developed with farmers by PARDYP. Significant benefits have been gained by adopting and adapting simple appropriate technologies. Examples from Pakistan in a rural watershed with low productivity show 300% increase in farm income based on a combination of increased productivity and increased cropping intensity. There are options that are well suited to mountain farmers that take advantage of their niche conditions - such as off season vegetables. Biofertilisers can be used in places where transport costs for mineral fertilisers precludes their use and therefore maintain or increase soil fertility, which in turn means that cropping intensities can be increased. Improved methods of water management as well as methods of improving supply are being adopted, particularly when associated with another enterprise like fish farming. As a final consequence, effective management of CPR (non-crop lands) proved an attractive bonus-like option resulting from improved agriculture. This is a unique example of CPR-PPR complementarity "

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