Natural resources perform multiple functions as a driver, maintainer, potential exit route, and also an effective escape mechanism in the context of poverty dynamics, especially in a predominantly agrarian economy such as India. The discourse on poverty reduction however, has often overlooked some of the major concerns of natural resource management, despite recognizing the criticality of agricultural growth for reducing rural poverty in the country. This paper presents an overview of the interface between natural resources and poverty in India and pleads for better equity and sustainability in resource management by ensuring sustained investment in support institutions at various levels.
While a number of schemes have been undertaken for management of natural resources viz; land, water, and forests by adopting participatory approaches, much of this remains isolated from the mainstream strategies for enhancing agricultural productivity across the three sets of regions - dry land; high potential rain fed; and high potential irrigated - where the emphasis is mainly on crop technology and yield maximization. The challenge now, is to shift towards water efficient and knowledge/employment intensive systems of agricultural production. Achieving this would require a more nuanced approach, which incorporates differential agro- ecological features on the one hand, and employment-livelihood needs on the other.
This paper is also published as CPRC-IIPA working paper no. 43.
CPRC Working Paper No.152, Chronic Poverty Research Centre, London, UK, ISBN: 978-1-906433-54-3, 31 pp.