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Making Sense of Rural Asia: Three Puzzles, Two Problems and a Challenge

  • B73 Warren Hall 137 Reservoir Ave Ithaca, NY 14850 (map)

Speaker: Jonathan Rigg, Geography, University of Bristol

Abstract: In this presentation, I will bring together recent research in Thailand and Vietnam, to illuminate and seek to explain three puzzles, two problems and a challenge that have currency across both countries, and (I suggest) the wider Asian region. The three puzzles are: Why don’t people sell their land when farming barely delivers an adequate living? Why do we see the disintensification of farming when land and labour conditions suggest intensification? Why does rural poverty continue to fall and material livelihoods improve when landholdings are increasingly sub-livelihood? The two significant problems that arise from these puzzles, are: how will farming modernize when farms remain so small? How will farming be sustained when farmers are rapidly aging? These puzzles and associated problems then raise a grand challenge: How do we feed the (Asian) world? In sum, I will argue that we tend to ask the wrong questions, of the wrong analytical units, with the wrong set of assumptions about development conditions. It is by changing our analytical mind-set that we can solve the puzzles, address the problems, and meet the challenge.

For more information on the talk, click here.