ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Stephen Biggs

Rural and Agricultural Mechanisation in the Himalayan Rural Economy

Over the past 10 years, the Nepal mid-hills experienced rapid agricultural and other types of rural mechanisation, especially through the spread of small-scale equipment. Using case studies, published and grey documents, key informant interviews, and participatory observation to examine the extent and history of this mechanisation and the factors influencing the increased use of small-scale equipment, we conclude that these changes were influenced by government and donor policies and projects, Nepal’s migrant economy, the economic shocks of the 2015 earthquake and the 2015 Indian border blockade, the growth of a responsive local import and agricultural machinery industry, and the increased demand for rural goods and services.

Patterns of Rural Mechanisation, Energy and Employment in South Asia: Reopening the Debate

During the 1970s, major policy debates on the role of mechanisation in agricultural and rural development in south Asia took place; by the early 1990s, such debates had largely faded. Yet today, countries such as Bangladesh possess some of the most productive, mechanised and labour-intensive agricultural industries in south Asia. This paper reopens these debates in the light of: (1) the highly diverse patterns of rural mechanisation that have taken place in Bangladesh, India and Nepal since the 1980s; (2) current renewed interest in rural employment and rural economic growth; and (3) changes in global trade patterns.

A Messy Confrontation of a Crisis in Agricultural Science

The 2008 food crisis sets the stage for this paper, which explores the processes involved in the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development. The insights drawn are situated in an historical recognition of the interface between agricultural crises and agricultural knowledge. The paper offers a window on both ongoing debates in agricultural science and the experiences of other recent international assessments of energy, the environment, and climate change. It is concerned with analysing how the iaastd was designed and written, for what it can tell us about the conclusions drawn and controversies raised. The democratic practices underpinning the set of iaastd reports and the integrated approach to agricultural knowledge, science, and technology, commodity production, and environmental and social goals, are central for understanding contemporary debates about agricultural knowledge.