Understanding transitions in farming systems and their effects on livestock rearing and smallholder livelihoods in Telangana, India

Kuchimanchi, Bhavana Rao; Boer, Imke J.M. De; Ripoll-Bosch, Raimon; Oosting, Simon J.


Increasing food demands are causing rapid transitions in farming systems, often involving intensified land and resource use. While transitioning has benefits regarding poverty alleviation and food outputs, it also causes environmental and social issues over time. This study aims to understand the transitions in farming systems in a region in Telangana, from 1997 to 2015, and their effect on livestock rearing and smallholder livelihoods. We also examine the impact of the transitions on lower caste groups and women in particular. We collected data using a combination of methods, i.e., a household survey, focus group discussions, and secondary data sources, to build a comprehensive picture of the transitions in the region. We found that subsistence mixed farming systems transitioned to market-orientated specialized systems over a short time span. As the transition process gained momentum, households either intensified their production or got marginalized. Technological interventions, development programs with integrated approaches, and market demand for certain agricultural produce triggered increased regional production but also led to the scarcity of water, land, and labor. The transitions marginalized some of the households, changed the role of livestock in farming, and have been inclusive of both lower caste groups and women in terms of increased ownership of large ruminants and access to technologies. However, for women specifically, further increase in workload in the context of farming is also found.