«A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy Approved November 2014 by the Graduate ...»
outputs for the future. In other words, agricultural tools, for example, purchased by a household to generate financial capital for their future livelihood is a physical capital since it is a physical tool obtained to produce income in the future. Human capital is comprised of education, skills, and health. And financial capital consists of money, savings and credit. Since not many societies have stable and reliable insurance systems, such as a bank, especially among developing countries, and the accessibility to them should be considered carefully. In some underdeveloped societies, as a result, other forms of financial capital substitute the insurance system. Like the case of rural Ethiopia Ellis (2000) used as an example, in Chitwan, Nepal, poultry and livestock work as a buffer to avoid the risk of losing their savings and money due to the instability of the insurance system since it can be substituted relatively easy with cash at big markets, like Narayanghat. Last, social capital is comprised of social ties within communities, between household, and among individuals. Kinship and friendship are good examples of social ties that embrace reciprocity, which is the key concept of social capital.
However, simply having any of these types of capital does not mean that a household can use it effectively. An important constraint is whether or not a household has the ability to liquidate one capital for another capital. This is called substitutionability of capitals (de Sherbinin et al. 2008; Reardon and Vosti 1995). In other words, how easy a household can access those five capitals and how easy a household can transform one capital to another are also important to understand the livelihood of rural households. For example, a household that tries to sell their land to educate their children is substituting their natural capital with human capital to eventually enhance their financial capital or
sector. In sum, the livelihood approach emphasizes that rural households are constantly juggling diverse types of capitals for a better future.
Table 1 summarizes the theoretical framework of the livelihood approach by Ellis (2000). Rural households try to utilize the best out of their household capitals to secure or improve their current and future livelihood. Accessibility to capitals, however, might be dependent on 1) demographic and socioeconomic status; 2) social rules, customs, and laws surrounding and governing households and individuals; 3) or organizations that have significant influences on both of them. For example, accessibility to financial capital might be much higher for males than females in a patriarchal society, like Nepal. Or a culture emphasizing strong kinship might create strong social capital for families. Diverse demographic, socioeconomic and environmental contexts shape livelihood strategies of rural households at the same time; population change, high volume of out-migration, unstable markets, foreign aid, disasters, or wars affect the options that rural households choose to secure and upgrade their livelihood. These contexts are important in that they are closely related to the issues of vulnerability which affect and shape the livelihood of those households. For example, in a situation of natural disaster, like flood, households with low socioeconomic status usually get the most damage due to the lack of safety nets while the households with high socioeconomic status get much less damage. The choices rural households make in these diverse contexts can be called livelihood strategies, if we put it differently, and those strategies could be natural resource based activities, such as fuel wood collection for heating and cooking or rice cultivation for every day meals. Sometimes, they could be non-natural resource
choices rural households make directly and indirectly result in the changes in their lives through the changes in the level of income or degrees of the stability of income sources.
Those changed livelihood strategies also influence the surrounding environment in a predictable way or sometimes unpredictable way in a short-term as well as long-term.
Finally, all of these factors come back to the creation of household capitals and make a connected circle of livelihood.
From this perspective, agricultural transition with the focus on the changes in agricultural activities and modes of production can be seen as one of the numerous livelihood diversification strategies that have significant effects on living standards as well as the sustainability of the surrounding environment (Ellis 2000). Unlike agricultural transition, on the other hand, energy transition is relatively difficult to be understood in a livelihood diversification perspective. Changing the main energy source of a household from traditional ones to modern ones is not necessarily to secure or improve their current livelihood. It is more likely a consequence caused by the increase in income or better infrastructure (Jiang and O’Neil 2004). Despite this, household capitals, which are the key elements of the livelihood perspective to look at different aspects of wealth, would be better tools to explain this transition rather than just a focus on the income of a household.
This is because energy transition is not just a matter of financial status and infrastructure, but also a matter of how a household accepts it (Masera et al. 2000). Therefore, I argue that it is important to explore the effects of household capitals as well as migration as crucial factors affecting the decision making of rural farming households on energy transition. I will elaborate on these arguments below.
out-migration of any household members reduces the available labor of a household for any activities. This would significantly affect labor-intense activities of farming households. Thus, reduced labor of a household would result in the changes in the livelihood strategies of a household until migrating household members return, and there is high chance that changed ways of living persist afterwards. I expect that one reasonable way a farming household would try to adapt is to intensify farming methods to compensate for reduced labor power. This is so in that those households still need to secure the current income sources despite the lack of labor. For example, a household might use more chemical fertilizer than before to compensate for the decrease in farming productivity caused by the loss of labor. Even though their livelihood security is not in danger, farming households might want to have better productivity by using more and better chemical fertilizer to pursue a better standard of living with the money transferred from successful migrants.
Another option for agriculture intensification is raising poultry, which creates additional profit alongside farming in the context where agriculture is the main business.
Poultry farming includes raising chickens, ducks, and pigeons, and poultry farming has been the booming business in the last few years in Chitwan, Nepal. The rising land price over time might have made this choice attractive to some farmers. Bilsborrow and Pamela (1990) insist that it is inevitable to face rising land price in agricultural regions as population density goes up with limited land area. This rising land price would create a gap in land possession among farmers with different socioeconomic classes. For example, those farmers with normal socioeconomic status would have less financial or social
the farmers with high socioeconomic status would be significantly larger than the former.
Then those households with relatively large land would try to get the most profit out of it, and one promising option for them could be raising poultry or even industrial-level poultry farming. Since raising poultry requires a certain level of financial level, migration would help farming households to raise additional poultry to diversify their livelihood for the future. Or keeping poultry could be a good strategy to keep their financial remittance from migrants safe under the circumstance that the insurance system is unstable, especially in underdeveloped countries. When the stability and security of banking systems available for rural households are questionable considering the market situation of a given country, substituting money with poultry would work as a reliable buffer for the breakdown of insurance systems of a society where agriculture is the main business, like Chitwan, Nepal. Based on these considerations, the first set of hypotheses is that migration at the household level would increase the likelihood of agricultural intensification.
Environmental Consequences of the Changes in Agricultural Activities. In the relationship between humans and the environment, the problem is that nature can absolutely sustain or even thrive without humans, but we leave footprints on the environment (Kitzes, Wackernagel, Loh, Peller, Goldfinger, Cheng, and Tea 2008;
Institute for Environmental Security 2004). Agricultural intensification could be one of the footprints that have negative impacts on environment, such as soil degradation, water degradation and greenhouse gas emission, when there are no proper government or community-based regulations (Raut et al. 2010; Hazell 2009; Niazi 2004; von Westrap
and more use of chemical fertilizer are found to be the two main culprits (Westrap et al 2004). Poultry farming is also associated with deforestation, land degradation, water pollution and worse individual health (Van Boeckel, Thanapongtharm, Robinson, D’Aietti, and Gilbert 2012; Otte, Roland-Holst, Pfeiffer, Soares-Magalhaes, Rushton, Graham and Silbergeld 2007; Berka et al. 2001). Not only the farming itself, but also the increasing demand for poultry, especially in developing countries, is another problem linked to deforestation (Boucher, Elias, Goodman, May-Tobin, Mulik, and Roquemore 2012).
Furthermore, since the degradation of the quality of water and air, which people share in the same region, is the problem of common property, agricultural intensification is highly related to the theory of common property (Acheson 2000). Land is most likely private property so farmers would not exploit their own land, but there are two possibilities of exploitation. First of all, less educated farmers might not know the fact that what they do now would cause negative results in the future of the same land.
Second, their circumstances might make them to exploit their own land through intensification for their livelihood they need to improve right now. Some farmers have to exploit their land even though they know what it would cause for future crop production, and this creates a vicious circle between poverty, exploitation, and environment.
Especially the second scenario tells us that environmental choices are indeed dependent on income level, knowledge, and individual preferences (Demeny 1990).
Changes in the Modes of Production as a Response to Migration. Households might try to diversify their income sources by changing the modes of production rather
Nelson (1998), a livelihood diversification in the form of non-farm activities is one of the notable coping strategies of rural households in the settings of Bangladesh, Mali, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. Levitt (1998 & 2001) argues that migration brings not only financial remittance, but also social remittances, such as experience, new ideas and thoughts. This implies that, besides money, what migrants have seen and experienced in migration destinations might have changed the way they looked at the world and could affect what they have been doing for living (Dabir, Daroudi, and Khazri 2013). In other words, considering that migration is often to more developed areas of a country or the world, what they have seen in their destinations could have given some insights or new thoughts about the ways in which a society develops in the near future. This means that households with migrants would consider some options for their future livelihood, and with enough resources accumulated through financial remittances of migrants and under appropriate socioeconomic conditions, they are very likely to pursue the new ways of living.
Accepting that most opportunities in developed cities and countries are in the non-farm sector, this new ways of living tend to be wage and salary jobs or even running a business.
Therefore, migration experience could be positively associated with the changes in the modes of production especially for farming households.
This pattern would be more common for young generations than for old generations. Young age groups tend to leave farming due to occupational career, lifestyle change, or financial decisions (Gale 2003). As Boserup (1965) mentioned, young people might just want to pursue less arduous occupations than farming whenever there is a chance. Thus, direct and indirect migration experience would stimulate this tendency of
education, which could implant new information, thoughts and ideas, would affect the decision of how to diversify their livelihood for not and the future. Since education is the most important prerequisite to get most wage and salary jobs, education is very likely to have positive relationship with the changes in the modes of production.
However, the studies in the context of China show that the relationship might not be a straight line but more likely to be a reversed U-shape (Willmore, Cao, and Xin 2011).
Put it differently, there is an appropriate level of education and age for non-farm work opportunities that correspond with the level of socioeconomic development of a given society. Willmore et al. (2011) argue that this might be due to the fact that jobs on the market of a given region in China do not require high education, and because of that, high education could work as a disadvantage, not as an advantage. In fact, another study on migration decisions in the context of Chitwan, Nepal, also shows that individuals with high levels of education tend not to migrate but to find a job in the non-farm sector (Regmi 2014).