Presented by Dr Toni Darbas, CSIRO Land and Water Flagship
The Food System Innovation (FSI) project was established mid- 2012 as a partnership between CSIRO, ACIAR and DFAT in order to use systems thinking to improve the application of evidence-based approaches to food security interventions. The Sustainable and Resilient Farming Systems Intensification (SRFSI) project, now being implemented in the Eastern Gangetic Plains (EGP), has been an FSI case study for three years. The EGP is comprised of the Indian states of West Bengal and Bihar, the eastern Terai Plains of Nepal and Northwest Bangladesh and is known as the ‘poverty square of South Asia’. The region is a Green Revolution puzzle in that despite abundant groundwater and alluvial soils, cropping intensity and yields follow jurisdictional contours. Viewed from an institutional perspective, this pattern reflects path dependencies arising from the differentiation of the four jurisdictions out of feudal British Bengal, and offers rich material for comparative analysis. Combining sociological, historical, rational actor and discursive accounts of institutional inertia and change into one framework, a broad-ranging literature review as well as incountry key informant interviews were undertaken in FSI’s first year.
The comparative institutional analysis formed part of a scoping study to inform SRFSI’s design. This analysis highlighted how regional shocks such as famine and war can shift a jurisdiction’s food security trajectory, but only if the rules of the game are dramatically shifted at multiple scales. More typically, poverty traps are maintained through elite resistance to reform and harvesting of new benefits and opportunities.
About the presenter
Dr Toni Darbas is a UNSW trained sociologist employed as a CSIRO Research Scientist for the past decade. She worked within a broad-acre cropping research group for five years, then within the newly established Social and Economic Sciences program. Her research interest is institutional inertia and change in agricultural systems as provoked by sustainability and equity policy imperatives.
For further information, contact convenor Jane O’Sullivan firstname.lastname@example.org