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Food Sovereignty and Uncultivated Biodiversity in South Asia: Essays on the Poverty of Food Policy and the Wealth of the Social Landscape

Farhad Mazhar, Daniel Buckles, P.V. Satheesh, and Farida Akhter
Academic Foundation, IDRC

Available formats

This publication explores the meaning of agriculture and guides the reader into new territory, where food, ecology, and culture converge. In the food systems of South Asia, the margin between cultivated and uncultivated biodiversity dissolves through women’s day-to-day practice of collecting and cooking food, constituting a feminine landscape. The authors bring this practice to light, and demonstrate the value of food production and consumption systems that are localized rather than globalized.

Based on extensive field research in India and Bangladesh, with and by farming communities, the book offers both people-based and evidence-based perspectives on the value of ecological farming, the survival strategies of the very poor, and the ongoing contribution of biodiversity to livelihoods. It also introduces new concepts such as “the social landscape” and “the ethical relations underlying production systems” relevant to key debates concerning the cultural politics of food sovereignty, land tenure, and the economics of food systems. The authors are leading activists and accomplished researchers with a long history of engagement with farming communities and the peasant world in South Asia and elsewhere.

The print edition of this publication includes a DVD entitled Diversity and Food Sovereignty, which presents three farmer-made films. Their message is loud and clear: food sovereignty means the conservation of biological diversity and revitalization of ethical community relations.

The authors

Farhad Mazhar is a founding member of UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternative) and is currently its Managing Director.

Daniel Buckles is Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and former Senior Program Specialist at IDRC.

P.V. Satheesh (India) is the co-founder and current Director of the Deccan Development Society.

Farida Akhter is the Executive Director of UBINIG.