Towards a Relational Approach to Agency for Mapping Pathways Into and Out of Poverty

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: University of Sussex Business School

Abstract

Global poverty looks radically different in the 21st century as climate-related events, political-religious conflicts and economic growth-inequality nexuses add to persistent forms of social exclusion based on gender, race, and class. In this uncertain and unpredictable context, we require new approaches to understand complex pathways into and out of poverty, directing attention to poor people's collective capacity to bring about transformative change i.e., their agency, as constituted by social networks and relations with nature, and mediated by science and technology. Our aim is to develop the concepts and methods of an innovative 'relational agency pathways approach', drawing on theories from Science, Technology and Society studies and the 'pathways approach' to poverty reduction and social justice, which emphasise interactions between social, technological and environmental change.

We will develop this new approach to understand diverse pathways out of poverty for smallholders and the landless in agriculture, in two arenas. First, we will study how small farmers and farmworkers adapt new technologies on the farm, as their cultivation practices are transformed due to technological and environmental change. Second, we will study how farmers turn a harvested crop into a commodity for the market, negotiating their relationships with credit providers and traders. Both these arenas played out dramatically under the 'Green Revolution', from the 1960s onwards, when technology, markets and government support were used to intensify agricultural production.

The first geographical focus of our work will be on the North Arcot region of Tamil Nadu, India, a classic exemplar of the Green Revolution in Asia, where extensive historical data since the early 1970s are available. Collaborating with our co-investigators at Madras Institute of Development Studies, and collecting new life history data in the field, we will map long-term agency pathways into and out of poverty constituted by changing technologies, natural resources and social worlds, as lived by people of different genders, classes and castes. We will test the approach in Machakos County in Kenya (in collaboration with our co-investigator at African Centre for Technology Studies), where several attempts have been made to get a Green Revolution off the ground, but none have been sustainable. In addition to relying on archival data and collecting life histories using ethnographic engagement with the study's participants, we will use a workshop format to collect data on how people evaluate diverse pathways out of (and into) poverty along a range of criteria derived from conventional indicators of welfare and well-being as well as those designed by the participants themselves.

To communicate our approach in other low-income contexts, we will develop a training programme for junior researchers. There will be broad-based participation from researchers, policymakers and farmers throughout the project, and we will organise a final workshop in Kenya, which will bring these participants together in a safe space for collective learning, where our findings and approach can be confronted with their different knowledges and experiences.

We will present our work in academic and policy forums, produce policy briefs and web blogs and a short documentary film (to engage with audiences beyond academia and policy). We see our research to be of interest to at least five groups: a) government institutions attempting to intensify smallholder agriculture through better use of natural resources and new technologies; b) rural development organisations (including non-governmental ones), active in organising initiatives for poverty alleviation; c) academic researchers working on agricultural sustainability and poverty issues in the global south; d) environmental NGOs at international and grassroots levels; e) farmers' associations such as the East African Farmers' Federation.

Planned Impact

Our impact approach rests on four pillars of co-production, accessibility, innovativeness and relevance. In the context of efforts to achieve a sustained Green Revolution transformation in LICs, this project will recast farmers' agency from being a problem, to being constituted by relational processes in ways that allow them to escape poverty. Central among the intended end-beneficiaries of this project are poor people in rural areas, including the farmers and workers whose agency has been under-recognised by existing programmes. Our project will contribute to new approaches for realising these benefits for poor people in rural Africa and India by revealing policy-relevant lessons drawn from the successful transformations observed in North Arcot (Tiruvannamalai and Vellore districts). The immediate beneficiaries therefore are regional and national public policy-making institutions in Africa and India, international agricultural development organisations/initiatives, smallholder farmers' associations, and civil society organisations in both regions (see Pathways to Impact for a list of names).

To maximise the relevance and potential for instrumental impact from our research we will ensure that beneficiaries' needs and priorities are taken into account from the beginning. The inception workshop in India will be attended by the project advisory committee from India and Africa, who will help frame the research with the core team, ensure relevance and define interest in policy networks. The inception workshop will involve selected stakeholders in co-designing the project's outreach strategy through the use of an adapted Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA) as used by the ESRC STEPS Centre. This will map networks of stakeholders, articulate knowledge about their relationships, networks, pathways of influence, attitudes and interests, and identify potential ways to communicate and engage with them. This in turn will inform communications and engagement strategies and messages, including the use of existing digital platforms, papers, briefings and meetings. The project's Advisory Committee (see Pathways to Impact for membership) will provide further guidance on how our research can meet policy and other decision-making needs at continental (African Union), regional (East African Community) and local (civil society organisations, reached through our advisors) levels. Co-production of knowledge throughout is a vital component. The use of Multi-Criteria Mapping (MCM) in India and Africa will identify under-recognised priorities, values and visions of diverse possible pathways out of poverty among a diverse set of stakeholders. The final workshop of the project will be held in Kenya and will involve researchers and other policy-linked stakeholders from Africa and India, and members of the advisory committee. As well as project findings, a documentary film will be shared, presenting the findings in a persuasive, memorable and accessible medium.

To build a lasting legacy from the project and reach wider audiences, a series of academic outputs (Working Papers and journal articles) will be shared via a strategic alliance with the ESRC STEPS Centre and Future Agricultures Consortium, alongside blogs, opinion pieces, methods summaries, the film and other digital outputs. This includes using targeted mailing lists, dedicated and high-profile space on existing websites, and social media to encourage engagement with the project among wider academic and practitioner groups. A final training workshop for junior researchers will allow the research impact to live on beyond the end of the project. This workshop will launch and use a relational agency pathways approach training manual. The project design enables sharing of perspectives, learning and capacity to take place between our researchers, advisors and wider users between India and Africa, also opening potential pathways for further interactions and projects.
 
Description In south India, we have found that people's pathways into and out of rural poverty are strongly dependent on intersections between structures of caste, gender and religion. Furthermore, the structures and their intersections are shaped by (and shape) changes in political mobilisation, ecological landscapes and technological artifacts. The intersecting structures and their material relations with rural politics, ecologies and technologies, altogether provide crucial empirical insights for the development of our Relational Pathways approach.

We are currently analysing life history narratives collected in Kenya, to grasp the differences and similarities between the poverty pathways observed there and those observed in south India. Comparing and connecting between the two regions will help us develop an even richer and more complex picture of Relational Pathways (into and out of poverty).
Exploitation Route • Agencies & programmes (e.g. CAADP, National Task Force on Agriculture) involved in agriculture in India and Kenya (and elsewhere) adopt ideas & evidence on Relational Pathways and use them more extensively in their thinking, planning and practice.
• Political parties, who have strong influence over policy making for agricultural development, understand more about the actual goals and needs of farmers and landless labourers and how these needs and goals are relationally constituted.
• Research organisations use and adapt the Relational Pathways approach to better understand how to tackle rural poverty, and these insights further inform policy & practice.
• Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), including faith-based organisations, are able to use Relational Pathways insights and approach, in their advocacy & support for farmers, landless workers and their families. Through CSOs and the media, we aim to influence industry associations and private companies to listen to farmers'/landless communities' concerns.
• Assist smallholder farmers' associations to engage further in debates about how farmers relate to technology.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

 
Description Conference Panel Development Studies Association:Global Inequalities Manchester 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Development Studies Association 2018: Global inequalities
University of Manchester, 27-29th June

Unequal legacies? The politics of the Green Revolution and South-South technology transfers in Africa [Rising Powers Study Group] (Panel)

Convenors:
Lidia Cabral (Institute of Development Studies)
Divya Sharma (University of Sussex)
Tom Lavers (University of Manchester)

Short abstract:
This panel will consider attempts to promote a 'new' Green Revolution in Africa, focusing on: the transfer of transnational policy ideas-including South-South transfers; the adoption and adaptation of these ideas in particular national political economies; and their distributional impacts.

Long abstract:
Over the past 15 years international organisations, philanthropists, private companies and national governments have sought to build momentum for a 'new' Green Revolution (GR) in Africa. Rising global powers, like India and Brazil, that experienced earlier GRs, have emerged as sources of technology and know-how to help deliver the envisaged African GR. This panel will explore the dissemination and adaptation of policy ideas regarding GR technology-from these rising powers and elsewhere, the potential of new GRs to either replicate the unequal GRs of the past or, alternatively, to learn from and avoid them; and the political drivers that shape these processes. Questions of interest include: How influential are transnational ideas about 'New Green Revolutions' in national policymaking processes? To what extent and in what ways do these draw on the experiences of the earlier GR countries like Brazil and India? What are the channels for transmitting these ideas and how are they adapted to domestic political economies? What particular types of agricultural technology are exported into Africa? And what combinations of interests, ideas and institutions shape elite commitment to agricultural transformation and the choice of particular technologies? What impact do new technologies have on differentiation and social relations along class, ethnic and gender lines? What are the implications for rural politics, representation and authority? How can transformative agricultural technologies from across the Global South be mobilised into the African context and inform national policymaking and local farming practices?
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Conference Panel at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Conference Panel at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, New Orleans, April 10, 2018 - April 14, 2018

Revisiting and Remaking Green Revolutions in the Global South
Co-Organizers:
Divya Sharma, University of Sussex
Ryan Nehring, Cornell University

Agricultural intensification is currently being pushed throughout the Global South as organizations such as the Gates Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) promote greater use of synthetic inputs among small holders and enroll them in global food supply chains. This is perhaps nothing new. The Green Revolution in the mid-twentieth century was based on the dissemination of science and technology during the Cold War decades in order to industrialize the countryside and build political alliances in the postcolonial world. While there are important differences between the two 'Revolutions', they are still underpinned by the same productivist logic with a renewed focus on biotechnology and an increased role for the private sector particularly in African countries. The contemporary programs for agricultural modernization also employ the trope of sustainable intensification.

Building on recent work (Harwood 2012; Cullather 2010; Kerr 2012; Baranski 2015; Kumar 2016; Kumar et al 2017), this paper session aims to historicize the politics and circulation of knowledge through this 'long Green Revolution' (Patel 2013). We invite papers that can contribute to a collective exploration of the continuities and crucial differences between the old and the new Green Revolution, and how regionally specific politics articulates with global processes. Potential papers might engage with but need not be limited to the following themes: the role of disciplinary boundary making and constitution of 'expertise'; how socio-ecological dynamics are conceptualized in agricultural science and practices; the politics of transnational exchanges between state and non-state actors; ethnographic accounts of negotiations with or resistance against agricultural industrialization; production of uneven geographies of resource use and access; and institutional histories and practices of the Green Revolution.

Works cited

Baranski, M. R. (2015). Wide adaptation of green revolution wheat: International roots and the indian context of a new plant breeding ideal, 1960-1970. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 50, 41. doi:10.1016/j.shpsc.2015.01.004

Cullather, N. (2010). The hungry world : America's Cold War battle against poverty in Asia. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Harwood, J. (2012). Europe's green revolution and others since: The rise and fall of peasant-friendly plant breeding. doi:10.4324/9780203118047

Kerr, R. B. (2012). Lessons from the old green revolution for the new: Social, environmental and nutritional issues for agricultural change in africa. Progress in Development Studies, 12(2-3), 213-229. doi:10.1177/146499341101200308

Kumar, P., Lorek, T., Olsson, T. C., Sackley, N., Schmalzer, S., & Laveaga, G. S. (2017). Roundtable: New narratives of the green revolution. Agricultural History, 91(3), 397-422. doi:10.3098/ah.2017.091.3.397
Kumar, R. (2016). Rethinking revolutions: Soyabean, choupals, and the changing countryside in central india. Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Patel, R. (2013). The long green revolution. Journal of Peasant Studies, 40(1), 1-63. doi:10.1080/03066150.2012.719224

Agenda

Presenter Jill Tove Buseth*, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), The green economy in Tanzania: From global discourses to institutionalization

Presenter Ryan Nehring*, The Brazilian Green Revolution, 1960-2010

Presenter Richa Kumar*, IIT Delhi, Sudha Nagavarapu, Sangtin, Sitapur, India, Richa Singh, Sangtin, Sitapur, India, Surbala Vaish, Sangtin, Sitapur, India, Ankush Agrawal, IIT Delhi, Anand Prakash, IIT Delhi, Green Revolution Transitions and Food and Nutritional security in Western Awadh, India 20 2:00 PM

Presenter William Moseley*, Macalester College, Rice Value Chains and Poor Female Farmers: A Political Ecology of the New Green Revolution for Africa and Women's Nutrition in Burkina Faso

Presenter Divya Sharma*, University of Sussex, Escaping Toxic Legacies of the Green Revolution in the Indian Punjab
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Conference paper Presentation Development Studies Association conference 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper Presentation at the Development Studies Association conference Global Inequalities 27-29th June 2018
Panel: Examining inequalities in contexts of environmental degradation
Convenors:
Clare Barnes (University of Edinburgh)
Paola Ballon (University of Oxford)
Sam Staddon (University of Edinburgh)
Chair:Fiona Nunan (University of Birmingham)

Is there a 'Green Revolution' of the landless? Decentring technology, recognising intersectionality, and pluralising ontology in rural South India
Paper authors:
Divya Sharma (University of Sussex)
Saurabh Arora (University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:
This paper revisits agrarian transformation since the 1970s in a green revolution region in south India through the standpoint of landless workers. Using life-histories we explore how workers traverse changing ecologies including depleting groundwater, rainfall patterns and eroding village commons.

Paper long abstract:
This paper examines contrasting yet overlapping ontologies underpinning three sets of narratives of the green revolution since the 1970s in south India. The first dominant set of narratives is underpinned by modern technology including electric pump-sets for groundwater extraction, hybrid varieties (of rice), synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. This technological materiality is reinforced by income-based conceptualisations of poverty and yield-based measurements of growth. Landless workers sometimes enter these narratives, as beneficiaries of rising wages and demand for labour on farms and in the expanding non-farm economy. The second set of narratives is critical of the green revolution's human and environmental impacts. Bodies and practices of the landless enter these narratives as victims of pesticide poisoning and de-skilling, and of caste based discrimination. Using new life-histories of elderly men and women in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu, we offer a third set of narratives. These narratives illustrate how landless workers shaped the green revolution transformations, and how they relate/adapt to changing ecologies including depleting groundwater, variable rainfall patterns and eroding village commons. Employing the concept of intersectionality to analyse gender alongside class and caste, we focus on life-histories of the land-deprived Dalits as well as of men and women from landowning castes who lost ownership or access to their lands. These narratives do not simply challenge the dominant techno-centric histories of the Green Revolution, they are also crucial for moving beyond policies and wider political discourses engaging with the agrarian crisis in India, which continue to be centred on landowning farmers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Conference paper presentation - ESRC-DFID Power of partnership: Research to alleviate poverty, New Delhi, December, 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact ESRC-DFID Power of Partnership: Research to Alleviate Poverty, New Delhi, India 3rd - 5th December, 2018

Session Multidimensional Poverty Chair: Tim Conway
Towards a relational approach to agency for mapping pathways into and out of poverty (Divya Sharma)

Abstract

This presentation will focus on preliminary analysis from ongoing research in a Green Revolution region of northern Tamil Nadu, India. Life histories assembled through open-ended interviews with small farmers and farm workers show how multiple forms of deprivation intersect and the changing configuration of socio-ecological relations since the onset of the Green Revolution in the 1970s. While our initial analytical focus was on agrarian practices and livelihoods, the 'critical events' emphasised by older farmers and workers as being significant in their lives substantively expanded our understanding of qualitative shifts in well-being and how they were enacted. We focus on some of the political practices highlighted in life history narratives, particularly by marginalised groups such as Dalit women workers, that show the limited sphere within which they are able to negotiate with policies, institutions and infrastructure that shape their lives. These narratives also articulate the implications of shifting nature of agrarian reforms and how they intersect with rural poverty alleviation and governance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Emerging Land and Labour Relations in Rural Tamil Nadu: Implications for the Agrarian Qquestion, by M. Vijayabaskar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Paper presented at the Conference on "Agrarian Change and Transformation in Post- Reform India: Pathways and Perspectives", held during March 29-30th 2018, organised by School of Economics, University of Hyderabad.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Inception Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Report: Inception Workshop (16-17 February 2017, MIDS Chennai)

This report presents a summary of the discussion at the project's inception workshop held in Chennai, as well as steps ahead in the work plan of the project which was updated after the workshop. The workshop was attended by the project's advisors and a small number of other governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. During the workshop, the project team made presentations on the background of the research and its underpinning questions as well as the conceptual approach and methodology to be used. The presentations sparked a round of rich discussion and feedback from the advisors and other stakeholder. This feedback led to substantive deepening of research planned in the project.

Research background
In the 21st century global poverty poses significant new challenges. Complex mixes of climate change impacts, resource conflicts, politico-religious wars (with large-scale refugee displacements) and growth-inequality nexuses work in tandem with structural mechanisms of social exclusion and unequal exchange to pile new vulnerabilities on the historically marginalized. This entanglement of social and economic structures with new risks and uncertainties demands new approaches for apprehending poverty, as a dynamic and complex process constituted by evolving networks of relations between humans and between humanity and nature, mediated by science and technology. In this workshop, we aim to focus on and discuss the outlines of one such theoretically informed and empirically grounded approach, which we call the 'relational agency pathways approach'.

This approach aims to build on: a) conceptual insights on agency, constituted by relations between humans and non-humans, from Science Technology and Society studies, particularly Actor-Network Theory (ANT) (Callon 1986; Latour 2005); and b) the ESRC STEPS Centre's pluralistic 'pathways approach' to poverty reduction and social justice, which emphasizes interactions between trajectories of social, technological and environmental change (Leach et al. 2010). In order to develop this approach empirically, we aim to use historical time series data from village studies carried out during the so-called Green Revolution (GR) in North Arcot region (Vellore and Tiruvannamalai districts) of Tamil Nadu in South India (Gathorne-Hardy et al. 2014; Harriss-White and Harriss 2007). Analysis of these longitudinal data will be complemented with life histories methods from anthropology (Crapanzano 1984; Kothari and Hulme 2004). The empirical aim is to reconstruct contrasting pathways into and out of poverty for people in different social positions.

Developing the approach in Tamil Nadu, we aim to test it in Machakos, Kenya. The aim of the empirical testing work in Machakos is to generate lessons about GR transformations in Kenya which has undergone a very different set of pathways as compared to South India. The testing process will be used to adapt and extend the relational agency pathways approach to facilitate its adaptation for use in diverse contexts. Overall, we aim to enable a reciprocal exchange between the conceptual (ANT, pathways approach) and the empirical (longitudinal data, new data from the field), in which the North Arcot and Machakos empirical material 'speaks back' to help re-build the concepts and methods (Jensen 2014).

Feedback from stakeholders at the workshop
Following presentations on a brief literature review of the East African GR experience, on the outlines of a relational agency pathways approach, on the historical overview of data collection in North Arcot, and on methodologies to be adopted in the project, discussions between the advisors (and other stakeholders) and project researchers highlighted several points of attention. These points include:
1. Suggestion made to draw on literature from West Africa, for instance the corpus produced by scholars at Wageningen University (NL), using technography and other farmer/practice-centred approaches.
2. Pay more attention to approaches to technology in agriculture, used by some CGIAR institutes such as ICRISAT. The overall framing of such institutions are different from other multilateral ones and may provide a more complex picture.
3. Older debates in agrarian studies (and poverty) in India are far removed from the conceptual underpinnings of the relational agency pathways approach. In this context it is important to situate the project's conceptual framing in relation to the existing literature, for opening up avenues for exchange and learning.
4. Need to take into account structural disadvantages faced by farmers within a policy framework driven by the agenda of pushing people out of agriculture, as sometimes mandated by the World Bank. The National Skill Development Council report says that 18% population in agriculture has to be reduced. While salaries of public sector employees have gone up exponentially there are only minimal increases in minimum support prices for farmers. Is it a deliberate strategy to push people out of agriculture? This might be done incrementally, as governments might collapse if it is done abruptly. If policies are reframed, people will not need to move out of agriculture. Agriculture cannot be sacrificed beyond a point.
5. In Kenya, two thirds of the land is semi-arid and therefore more suited for livestock rearing than agriculture, but development policy appears to prioritise agricultural development. Might it be important to bring pastoralism into the picture, particularly in Kenya part of the study?
6. Need to fully elaborate, before fieldwork, how will life histories be used to map agency of relational complexes? How will they be able to capture structures obstructing people's ability to act?
7. Is there a possibility of accounting for lack/loss of agency within the project's framework? The example of demonetisation in India is cited which is a classic example of how hegemony in the Gramscian sense unfolds, as there is a lack of protest despite material deprivation.
8. How will the relational agency pathways approach to be developed in this project speak to older debates on poverty, while appreciating that there are critical differences between African and Asian contexts of poverty? This needs to be spelled out, even if some earlier definitions of poverty as universally applicable have been highly problematic and contested. Also, the way poverty is defined by institutions, states and development experts often differs from community definitions of poverty.
9. It might be worth examining if and how upward mobility manifesting in the form of access to new housing, ownership of mobile phones, and motor vehicles may be accompanied by decline in some dimensions of well-being such as nutrition due to loss of 'traditional' food cultures?
10. Might it be worth examining the role played by 'pro-poor' populist policies and public distribution system played in Tamil Nadu? More broadly, it might be important to appreciate how structural relations of caste and gender shape access to resources and goods.
11. Evidence shows that since the 1990s there has been an increase in real wages. Does this mean that the landless may be better off than small/marginal farmers?
12. Would it be useful to outline the genealogy of ANT (one of the bases of relational agency pathways approach) - what conversations were scholars such as John Law and Bruno Latour entering? Which theoretical frameworks were they building on/ or challenging?

Post-workshop plan
In response to the feedback provided at the inception workshop, the project team has prepared an interim work plan, particularly in relation to the India part of the project. Tasks associated with the work plan are listed below:
a. Literature review on relational approaches to poverty (dynamics), including work on social capital and social exclusion, while making connections to relational agency (of the poor) and agrarian transformations associated with the Green Revolution: coordinated by M. Vijayabaskar (CoI, MIDS) and Joanes Atela (CoI, ACTS)
b. Conceptual outlines of the Relational Agency Pathways Approach, while accounting for performativity (of economics and poverty lines) and linking up with older structural approaches (as well as structuration): coordinated by Saurabh Arora (PI, SPRU) and Ajit Menon (CoI, MIDS)
c. Reviewing the literature on North Arcot's Green Revolution history and poverty, including an overview of data collected by Professor Barbara Harriss-White (BHW) and others since the early 1970s: led by BHW (Independent Consultant, Oxford)
d. Reviewing the wider Tamil Nadu (TN) agrarian context, also to aid in selecting 24 life history 'cases'. Literatures on agrarian policy in TN (as well as at the national level); caste-based politics and political economy of vote banks including redistribution of various types (northern TN; gender, power and labour (TN); agrarian movements (TN); technological change in Indian agriculture: led by Divya Sharma (Research Fellow, SPRU), supported by Saurabh, Barbara, Ajit and Vijayabaskar.
e. Overview of research methods including Life Histories (in anthropology and development studies, Critical Junctures (also focussing on instances of non-functioning of technologies and institutions); Multi-Criteria Mapping (MCM): led by Divya Sharma (supported by the PI and CoIs).
f. Aligning the conceptual and the methodological to be able to address poverty issues identified in Points a, b, c and d above. This alignment must be able to address "multiple interconnected agrarian and non-agrarian economies"; various 'phases' of the GR in terms of state and market participation as well as farmers entanglements with newer technologies (continuous GR?); trends in gendered labour participation; impacts of caste politics and public distribution systems; rise of parallel local-level governance institutions such as SHGs (including any role they might have played in agricultural extension); and changes in market infrastructures (including contract farming, procurement agencies, influence of Minimum Support Price). Ultimate aim to capture most of these dynamics in the field through the mapping of relational life histories.


List of Attendees
1. Dr A.R. Vasavi (project advisor)
2. Ananthoo (stakeholder - third sector)
3. Devinder Sharma (advisor)
4. Dr M. Kyari (advisor)
5. Nitya Ghotge (advisor)
6. Ramsubramanian (stakeholder - third sector)
7. Dr R. Rukmani (stakeholder - third sector)
8. Professor Shambu Prasad (advisor)
9. Stella Simiyu (advisor)
10. Dr Sugato Dutt stakeholder - government planning commission)
11. Venkatesh Athreya (advisor)
Project team:
12. Ajit Menon
13. Barbara Harriss-White
14. Divya Sharma
15. Joanes Atela
16. M. Vijayabaskar
17. Nathan Oxley
18. Saurabh Arora
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Life histories of the poor through green revolutions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact A presentation at Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, attended by about 40-50 undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Life histories of the poor through green revolutions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact About 30-40 undergraduate students attended this talk, at Shiv Nadar University, Noida (Delhi).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This brief report summarises the outcomes of a Participatory Impact Pathways Analysis (PIPA) workshop conducted at MIDS in Chennai during the inception workshop of the project 'Towards a Relational Approach to Agency for Mapping Pathways Into and Out of Poverty'.

About the PIPA
The PIPA session was the final half-day activity of a two-day workshop involving researchers of the project and members of the Advisory Committee, drawn from India and Africa. We aimed to draw on the experience of the project's advisors and researchers to build on the intentions outlined in the project's Pathways to Impact (see proposal), articulate potential routes or opportunities to engage with actors, networks and processes, and set the wider context for this engagement.
The structure used in the workshop was as follows:
• Discuss and agree the vision of the project, as it relates to societal impact - including the problem being addresses, and the project's aims in engaging with particular groups
• Elicit a list of key processes (including policy processes), events and networks with which to engage
• Undertake a mapping exercise to identify actors with whom the project might engage, and discuss their roles and how to reach them
• Discuss some tools for monitoring and evaluation (this took place on the following day, with the core project team).
The PIPA should be seen as a longer-term approach which includes this initial workshop, as well as ongoing monitoring and evaluation, periodic review and adaptation throughout the life of the project.
More information about the STEPS Centre's approach to PIPA and experience of it can be found in this short summary on the STEPS website, which includes a list of recommended further reading.

Vision of the project
This vision is drawn from the original proposal to DFID and the concept note for our inception workshop in February 2017. This represents a broad set of aims for the project, including the given feedback at our inception workshop, which should be further refined to ensure they're in proportion with the resources we have at our disposal.
This vision was discussed and broadly agreed before undertaking a mapping exercise to identify actors with whom the project might engage.
Problem formulation
• Current dominant approaches to rural poverty reduction are either methodologically individualist or structuralist, focussing on transformation of productive and institutional structures as well as individual behaviour, through adoption of modern efficient technologies and rational ideals.
• The agency of social actors, especially poor people, is underplayed. Poverty reduction programmes do not sufficiently take account of relations between/among social actors, ecology and technologies, how these relations are formed and changed, and the implications for pathways out of poverty

Our aims:
• National and international agencies & programmes (e.g. CAADP, National Task Force on Agriculture) involved in agriculture in India and Kenya (and elsewhere) use ideas & evidence about relational agency more in their thinking, planning and practice.
• Political parties, who have strong influence over policy making for agricultural development, understand more about the actual desires and needs of farmers and landless labourers.
• Research organisations use and adapt/scale up the approaches we develop to better understand how to tackle rural poverty, and these insights further inform policy & practice.
• Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), including faith-based organisations, use these insights & approaches in their advocacy & support for farmers, landless workers and their families. Through CSOs and the media, we influence industry associations and private companies to listen to farmers'/landless communities' concerns.
• Smallholder farmers associations are engaged in debates about how farmers relate to technology.
• We (the project team) develop new concepts & skills and build our capacity to use them in further collaborative projects.
We recognise that our project can only make a contribution to these aims, and that other activities and processes will also help or act as barriers to achieving them. As we cannot predict outcomes with certainty, we will track our engagements and efforts, using the original PIPA exercise as a reference point.
With that in mind, there follows a list of key relevant processes, events and fora identified in the workshop which the project should bear in mind in its engagement activities.
Key processes and events of relevance to the project
National or global events
• 2017 (August): elections in Kenya. These include regional elections.
• 2018: World Development Report, usually published early in the year. The theme for 2018 is education as a driver for development.
• 2019: Elections in India

Processes
• Budgeting processes at country level

Events to use as engagement opportunities
• Farmers' Union meetings - for listening to farmers' concerns (India)
• Machakos Agricultural Show (Kenya)
• Annual CAADP Partnership Platforms (Africa). 2017: 31 June - 2 July
• AU Science & Technology meeting in Cairo, July 2017 (via Mohammed Kyari)

Key networks and fora to engage
These may be useful points of contact in reaching larger networks.
• State Planning Commission - via MIDS
• Network for Rural and Agrarian Studies
• Meetings of Ministers of Agriculture/Economic Affairs. Go through permanent secretaries, via the AU system - first point of contact would be Dr. M. Kyari.
• East African Commissions - go via David Wafula.
• Association of African Universities - a key channel for spreading information via the academy in Africa - go via Dr M. Kyari.
Socio-ecological factors
• There is a drought at the moment in Tamil Nadu. People's responses to the research may be affected.
• A rise in farmer suicides in TN was attributed to the drought.
• Among consumers, there is rising interest and demand in organic food.

Actor mapping: reflections on mapping exercise and notes from discussion
Background
Part of the PIPA process involves an exercise where the participants place coloured circles on a large sheet of paper. Each circle represents an actor or institution. This is followed by an opportunity to group them to show commonalities or pathways of influence.
Colours are used to denote broad 'types' of actor (e.g. research institutions/NGOs/donors/media) while recognising that sectoral boundaries are not fixed. In the end the colours were not consistently used, but give a rough idea of the balance between different sectors. An Excel table (see below) gives more detail of the sectoral differences.
The aim is to articulate a shared understanding of actors to set the context for research and impact for the project.
The map is not an end in itself, and explicitly recognised as being incomplete, but is there to enable discussion and act as a visual reminder when it comes to reviewing the PIPA later on in the project.

The following notes summarise the discussion that followed the mapping (see attached images in separate files for full size).
In the stakeholder map a loose distinction was made between organisations and actors at national levels (India and Kenya), and an international level - while recognising the interactions between them. Because of time constraints, networks of relationships were not mapped in detail - instead, actors were mapped largely by sector, but we talked about relationships and pathways of influence during an open discussion over the finished map.

Notes on actors: behaviour, networks and routes of engagement
International actors
Large donors and international organisations (CGIAR, DFID, GIZ, UN, DFID, FAO, AU etc) are known to meet together (e.g. breakfast meetings) to co-ordinate or discuss work
Other large campaigning organisations (e.g. Oxfam and ActionAid), who may be outside that immediate circle, would still have policy and advocacy people who would aim to influence the international donors.
India
We discussed the need to include landless advocacy groups and organisations in our mapping of actors and recognise their importance.
Dalit Land Rights Forum is a landless advocacy organisation - most of the others are farmers' groups. Makaam is an NGO but works with landless people. It is an association of NGOs.
As for farmers' organisations, Devinder Sharma (a member of the Advisory Committee present at the discussion) convenes Kisan Ekta, the largest Indian collective of farmers' unions with a membership of 65 organisations. As an advisor to the project, he would be a primary source to connect with farmers' organisations. Devinder Sharma would also be able to help us to connect with newspapers and television media.
For reaching out to the Indian research institutes listed, MIDS would be a key channel - able to send out briefing papers etc. and recognised by other academic institutions as a source of evidence.
For providing evidence to policy-makers, the Standing Parliamentary Committee on agriculture is a key body - they hold consultations which we could contribute to.
Africa
For the African Union, Dr Kyari suggested that he could help the project to approach the AU.
In the Kenyan context, Joanes Atela (ACTS) suggested that regional-level organisations are a good way to reach political parties. There are regional research organisations that can convene policy debates (eg the members of the Africa Sustainability Hub - ACTS, ATPS and SEI Africa). For Kenyan actors it's easier to go through strategic regional bodies given their histories of engagement with policy makers.
Kenyan institutions are usually very open to attending a discussion - though whether this leads to action on the ground is less predictable. The challenge is to move from a policy being adopted on paper, to action.
One organisation to spearhead / champion messages within a sector (Kyari).
You can try to message all, but meanwhile work more intensively with a 'champion'.

Note on group composition
The discussion included more advisors and researchers from India (between 10-12) than Kenya/Africa (3), and this may have been reflected in the number of stakeholders identified for each country in the mapping exercise.
Influence and attitude mapping / review process
Because of time constraints, we decided to prioritise a discussion of potential policy spaces and methods of engagement, and to omit the detailed discussion of attitudes and influence that would normally be part of the stakeholder mapping exercise. It was suggested that the project team discuss power/attitudes at a later date, after interacting with some of the stakeholders identified. This will be part of a scheduled review of the PIPA, where we will update it, assess progress and identify new opportunities, as described in the project proposal.

Next steps
Once this initial report has been reviewed by the group, the Impact, Communications & Engagement officer will undertake a further prioritisation of actors and policy spaces, refine initial priorities for engagement and draft a longer-term communication plan. This will refer to the wider research plan and be created with inputs/feedback from the project team.
Monitoring & Evaluation
A table has been created to record engagements and interactions with actors during the life of the project, with details of outcomes.
These will be used towards the end of the project to show the response to our evidence, and construct informal 'impact stories' showing our influence on policy, capacity and debates.
This table is shared on the Sharepoint platform and all researchers on the project will be able to contribute to it directly.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description STEPS Centre seminar University of Sussex 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact STEPS Centre Seminar Tuesday 6 Nov 2018

Dalit women's narratives of the Green Revolution in rural South India
Divya Sharma (Research Fellow, SPRU)
Saurabh Arora (Senior Lecturer, SPRU)

Since the 1960s, the dominant narratives of the Green Revolution (GR) in India have focussed on state-led agricultural intensification through groundwater extraction, hybrid varieties of rice, synthetic agrochemicals and mechanisation. These narratives have also centred on mapping impact in terms of yield productivity, incomes, or inequalities across regions, class and caste. Historically marginalised and oppressed Dalit cultivators and workers enter these narratives as beneficiaries of the rising demand for labour, an increase in wages, and availability of work in the expanding non-farm economy. In critical narratives of the GR, they are victims of pesticide poisoning, de-skilling, and caste-based discrimination.

We offer an alternative set of narratives, based on life histories of two Dalit women in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu. Employing intersectionality, we explore how gender, class and caste together shape non-linear trajectories of poverty and well-being. The ways in which the women articulate memories of critical events show how they actively shaped agrarian and rural transformations, and how they relate to changing ecologies, including depleting groundwater, variable rainfall patterns and eroding village commons. These intersectional narratives, absent from dominant and critical histories of the GR, foreground everyday politics around socio-material practices of farm work and care. Challenging the dominant techno-centric narratives, they draw our attention to marginal cultivation and food practices, changing relations with land, negotiation of labouring arrangements, as well as changing conceptions of risk. We argue that such narratives are crucial for moving beyond policies and politics of engaging with the ongoing agrarian crisis in India, which remain centred on landowning farmers.

This research is part of the ESRC-DFID project Relational Pathways: Mapping Agency and Poverty Dynamics through Green Revolutions that aims to understand the pathways in and out of poverty for farmers and workers in Kenya and India constituted by changing technologies, natural resources.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Stakeholder engagement through Multicriteria Mapping workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Relational Pathways Project: Multicriteria Mapping Workshop
17-19 September 2018, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, India

Multicriteria mapping (MCM) is a hybrid quantitative-qualitative research method used for eliciting and exploring divergent perspectives on complex and uncertain issues such as rural poverty dynamics. MCM not only helps broaden the scope of assessments of specific poverty-reducing pathways, but also allows new pathways to be taken into consideration, if they are deemed important by research participants during the mapping exercise. In this way, MCM allows research to open up the assessment of poverty-reducing pathways, by taking into consideration multiple life experiences, knowledges, interests, values and possible directions for change. While encompassing this multiplicity, MCM also allows the drawing out of practical policy implications, by foregrounding pathways that are considered relatively more effective (for different reasons) by the participants.

In order to implement MCM, we organised a 2-day workshop with 20 participants in Chennai, on 18-19 September 2018. Participants included farmers and farm workers (from the two study villages in Tiruvannamalai district) who have directly experienced pathways in and out of poverty and those who work with poor people in different policy, advocacy and academic capacities. The workshop explored how these different actors appraise the efficacy of diverse poverty-reducing pathways, across multiple criteria. Devoting careful attention to uncertainty, MCM allows a combination of quantitative rigour and qualitative flexibility. This can, in turn, enable the linking of less tangible (subjective, qualitative) factors in poverty reduction, with more visible and dominant economic data (e.g. on incomes, wages, and changes in crop yields).

MCM affords an operational focus on the practical implications of research for concrete decision-making options in policy, while giving equal attention to divergent perspectives, issues and contextual assumptions. Thus, through this mapping exercise as a whole - also aided by the rich narrative documentation permitted in MCM - our aim was to understand how diverse pathways out of poverty, and their drivers in people's agency, are evaluated and ranked by different people (including the poor themselves) in the short- and long-run.

Overall, by conducting a fine-grained analysis of diverse poverty-reducing pathways, we aim to highlight which pathways are considered relatively more effective by the participants. Since MCM avoids engineering a 'consensus', greater confidence is justified around those aspects of common ground that do arise - in particular concerning reasons for key disagreements, or conditions under which particular pathways may be favoured for different reasons. By focusing directly on options for action, the overall picture can inform policy processes for promoting future pathways out of poverty, while also illuminating wider political debates concerning the reasons why different views may hold. The workshop included a day-long training for 12 postgraduate students from universities in Tamil Nadu on using Multicriteria Mapping and they helped facilitate the workshop with the other participants.

The workshop was centred on an appraisal of the following core pathways out of poverty that emerged through life history narratives collected through fieldwork between September 2017- April 2018 in two villages in Tiruvaanamalai district.

Focal goal: to improve everyday quality of life for rural workers and small/marginal farmers

1. Raising and ensuring stable agricultural incomes

Pricing, procurement and production incentives such as support for paddy cultivation and diversification towards less water-intensive, short-duration paddy varieties or cultivation methods, or for supporting increased production of marginal, dryland and labour-intensive crops such as groundnut, ragi (finger millet) and pulses, planning for sustainable irrigation. Support is provided for expansion of dairy farming which is an important source of income for both landed and landless households. Higher and stable crop prices may translate into higher wages, particularly for women workers.

2. Creating avenues for (secure) non-farm employment locally

Opportunities are enhanced for men and women from landless households for non-farm work locally. The wages specifically in construction are higher than agriculture but housing costs in cities such as Chennai and Bangalore are prohibitive. And, short-term migration is not an option for women. This could involve repurposing of agricultural land for industrial development. Efforts are made to revive silk weaving as a viable livelihood option. Government jobs (teaching, health and child care workers within the village or nearby villages) and work in the army also feature as part of this possible pathway to upward mobility.

3. Making free/cheap good quality education and healthcare available locally

Investments are made in government schools, especially beyond primary level. People incur loans or aspire to send their children to English-medium institutions only available privately and outside the village, so they can get secure jobs. Expanding government healthcare provision and enhancing the quality of primary health centres and hospitals. In particular, investment is made in ways to deal more effectively with injuries/ailments from physical labour and farm accidents that currently present key pathways into poverty, especially for women.

4. General expansion of/ easier and equitable access to social protection schemes

Access is improved to a number of existing social protection schemes that are currently difficult to access. This includes universal ones like the public food distribution system, mid-day school meals, and employment guarantee scheme MGNREGA (locally known as 100 days work) addressing demands for expansion (more number of work days, better quality rice and diverse food items to be made available through the public distribution system). Measures are taken to reduce the blocking effects of intermediaries and bribery problems in the administration that make it currently difficult to access targeted schemes (such as old age/widow/ disability pensions, housing allocations etc).

5. Enhanced collective mobilisations and/or participation in socio-political networks (eg. Ambedkar movement, political party cadres -DMK/AIDMK; church institutions)

This is a particular aspect of easier access to social protection, specifically involving collective mobilisations rather than government schemes. The emphasis here is on democratic functioning of decentralised schemes such as MGNREGA, negotiating conflicts over land, water and village commons, and challenging caste based discrimination. Particular measures are taken to make government bureaucracy/politicians more responsive and accountable (village administrative officer; agricultural extension officers; district collector; revenue officer; panchayat leaders)

6. Increasing availability of low-interest credit for all

This intensifies the existing trend under which self-help groups are proliferating over the last decade, as a source of credit. Credit that is easily accessible to landless households and women. Loans are used to meet large expenditures (social obligations - weddings, death rituals), acquiring assets - cattle, gold, to meet cultivation costs -inputs, digging, deepening wells. Unlike when borrowing from banks, there is no threat of losing land.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description The Labour Question under Contemporary Agrarian Transition: The Case of Tamil Nadu, by M. Vijayabaskar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Paper presented at the Sam Moyo Memorial Conference on Land and Labour Questions in the Global South', organized by the Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies, SSS, JNU, N. Delhi. 21 to 23 February, 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018