Empirical evaluation of sustainability of divergent farms in the dryland farming systems of India

Haileslassie, A and Craufurd, P and Thiagarajah, R and Shalander, K and Whitbread, A M and Rathore, A and Blummel, M and Ericsson, P and Kakumanu, K R (2016) Empirical evaluation of sustainability of divergent farms in the dryland farming systems of India. Ecological Indicators, 60. pp. 710-723. ISSN 1470160X

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The present study argues that there are heterogeneous farm systems within the drylands and each farm system is unique in terms of its livelihood asset and agricultural practice, and therefore in sustainability. Our method is based on household survey data collected from 500 farmers in Anantapur and Kurnool Districts, in Andhra Pradesh State of India, in 2013. We carried out principal component analysis (PCA) with subsequent hierarchical clustering methods to build farm typologies. To evaluate sustainability across these farm typologies, we adopted a framework consisting of economic, social and environmental sustainability pillars and associated indicators. We normalized values of target indicators and employed normative approach to assign different weights to these indicators. Composite sustainability indices (CSI) were then estimated by means of weighted sum of indicators, aggregated and integrated into farm typologies. The results suggested that there were five distinct farm typologies representing farming systems in the study area. The majority of farms (>70%) in the study area are small and extensive (typology 1); marginal and off farm based (typology 2). About 20% of the farms are irrigation based and intensive (typology 3); small and medium and off farm based (typology 4) and irrigation based semi-intensive (typology 5). There was apparent variability among farm typologies in terms of farm structure and functions and composite sustainability indices. Farm typologies 3 and 5 showed significantly higher performances for the social and economic indices, while typologies 2 and 4 had relatively stronger values for environment. These discrepancies support the relevance of integrated farm typology- and CSI approaches in assessing system sustainability and targeting technologies. Universally, for all farm typologies, composite sustainability indices for economic pillar was significantly lower than the social and environment pillars. More than 90% of farmers were in economically less-sustainable class. The correlations between sustainability indices for economic and environment were typology specific. It was strong and positive when aggregated for the whole study systems [all samples (r = 0.183; P < 0.001)] and for agriculture dependent farm typologies (e.g. typologies 1 and 3). This suggests the need to elevate farms economic performance and capacitate them to invest in the environment. These results provide information for policy makers to plan farm typology–context technological interventions and also create baseline information to evaluate sustainability performance in terms of progress made over time.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : Innovation Systems for the Drylands (ISD)
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems
CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Relative sustainability; Farm typologies; Composite sustainability indices; Farm structure; Farm function; Dryland farming systems; Sustainability; Anantapur; Kurnool; Andhra Pradesh; Farm typologies
Subjects: Others > Farming Systems
Others > Drylands Agriculture
Others > Indian Agriculture
Others > India
Others > Drylands
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2017 08:56
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2017 04:22
URI: http://oar.icrisat.org/id/eprint/9875
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.08.014
Acknowledgement: We gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the CGIAR Consortium Research Program for dryland production system and Water Land and Ecosystem (WLE). The support from ICRISAT Biometry Department on the data analysis and suggestion from anonymous reviewers is highly appreciated.
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