Is quinoa on your diet? Are you tempted by the exotic scent of cardamom in your local tea shop? Any idea where the tender beans on your plate come from, and how they are produced?
The demand for new agricultural products with specific nutritional characteristics and year-round availability has constantly been on the rise in recent years – and so has their price. These market dynamics have a profound effect on the places where such products are grown. In many cases, these are rural areas in developing countries where agriculture is the main economic sector. Accordingly, high-value crops hold the promise of stimulating rural development in the global South: employment is expected to lift poor people – and women in particular – out of their multiple dependencies on small-scale agricultural production, offering them and their children new perspectives.
“Before cardamom, we used to face hardship”: Analyzing agricultural commercialization effects in Nepal through a local concept of the Good Life
Does cardamom production make farmers’ lives better? In their new released publication, Matthys, Acharya and Khatri analyse based on qualitative interviews and participatory photography commercialisation effects through a local concept of the Good Life in East Nepal. Leaving the definition of the Good Life entirely to the respondents, they find that the local concept of the Good Life is multidimensional and includes both subjectively and objectively measurable dimensions. The authors’ interview analysis reveals that the notion of hardship (dukha) and its reduction was consistently emphasised by respondents across all socio-economic groups in both their Good Life concepts and their perspectives on agricultural change. Commercialisation was evaluated positively because it reduced physical and financial hardship. However, the positive effect of agricultural commercialisation on the Good Life may be compromised by increases in inequality, a lack of economic and ecological sustainability, and the fact that most respondents conceptualized a life free from hardship outside agricultural livelihoods.