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Towards food autonomy: connectivity and self-help groups in Hisar, India

  • Singh, S.
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2015
Wageningen University and Researchcenter Publications
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<p>Keywords: self-help groups, connectivity, food autonomy, peasants, micro-enterprise</p> <p><strong>Towards Food Autonomy: Connectivity and Self-help Groups in Hisar, India</strong></p> <p>PhD Thesis</p> <p>Shweta Singh</p> <p>Rural Sociology Group, Wageningen University, Netherlands</p> <p><strong>Abstract</strong> Food autonomy requires consideration of the various connectivity and self-help action organizing by the peasants’ communities. The socio-spatial organization of mung-bean production, household processing and consumption practices in Hisar district of Haryana-India are studied. The socio-spatial organization of food connects agriculture to its local environment, the regionally tied agriculture produce to local consumption patterns, and food production and consumption to livelihood and health, which are enabled by the abilities and practices of peasants and stimulate food autonomy. The connections are related to mung-bean food qualities at various levels of production, processing and consumption. Local mung-bean preferences of producers, processors, consumers and the market conditions are studied. It showed that local mung-bean food qualities related to suitability in the local cropping system, processing requirement (short cooking-time, better consistency and appearance) and consumption choice (easy to cook, healthy food). Mung-bean market conditions indicated that the market works against peasants (traders and urban processors are winners). However, the producers’ viewpoint on mung-bean processing at the community level is linked to the creation of new social relations in the mung-bean food network to strengthen the territorial connectivity of mung-bean for reinforcing mung-bean food autonomy. The possibilities of Self-Help Group (SHG) and SHG-based (food) Micro-Enterprise (ME) developments were discussed. In reviewing the literature on SHGs and previous empirical studies, various factors were identified that contribute to a success or failure of a functioning of SHG. These include full participation from and homogeneity among members, and clear group goals and transparency in group operations and functioning. The SHG mung-bean food-based ME initiated in Mangali village of Hisar was studied, to investigate ways in which this group functions. Results revealed three identifiable roles of the self-help peasants’ group: i) it consolidates local mung-bean food production, local resources and motivations of the peasants; ii) it develops another perspective of development based upon a more localized choice for processing, distributing, marketing and accessing local mung-bean food; and iii) it empowers local people (especially peasants and the poor rural community) and strengthens the connectivity between local mung-bean production and consumption. The need remains for technological efforts to address the specific location of peasant resources while in the SHG there is clearly a need to restore or redefine collective responsibility.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p>

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