Participatory impact assessment of agricultural practices using the land use functions framework: case study from India

Purushothaman, S.; Patil, S.; Francis, I.; König, H.; Reidsma, P.; Hegde, S.


What do different stakeholders think of the changing trends in agricultural practices and related policies? We answer this and related questions with respect to Karnataka, an Indian state showing signs of agrarian distress. Using the participatory impact assessment (PIA) method involving farmers, researchers and voluntary workers, we assess the impact of recent policy-driven farming practices. The land use functions (LUFs) framework, which resembles the ecosystem services framework, was adapted in the PIA to address multidimensional sustainability in agricultural landscapes. During the PIAs, participants ranked LUFs in the order of their perceived importance and projected the impact of different practice–policy scenarios on chosen indicators corresponding to each LUF. Three farming scenarios, namely organic, conventional (chemically intensive) and mixed input practices were assessed for their projected impacts on selected indicators of each LUF. The LUF ranking reveals that while stakeholder priorities vary, they remain contrasting to the common policy focus of profit and productivity maximisation. Farmers value family's health and water access the most and financial services the least as functions of their land. Indicator scoring in the PIA revealed that participants rated organic practices as the most beneficial, conventional scenario as detrimental and the now prevailing mixed inputs scenario as having little impact