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Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición • Foro FSN

Re: Rural migration, agriculture and rural development

Nitya Rao
Nitya RaoSchool of International Development and LANSAIndia

This is really an important issue and I congratulate FAO for making it the theme for the next SOFA. I have a few specific comments. In section 3.3, drivers of migration, apart from poverty, employment opportunities etc, a major reason is the changes in land use patterns due to global and national business investments in agricultural land. Within academic debates, this has been called 'land grabs', 'green grabs' amongst others. Seccondly, in section 4.2, on migration impacts, while nutrition is important, the entire field of health, nutrition and wellbeing, of both migrants and those left-behind needs to be emphasised. In fact, for Scheduled Tribes in India, over a period of two decades, men (seasonal migrants) show a declining diet diversity, with implications for nutrition. In parts of western India, during peak agricultural seasons, often coinciding with male migration, women lack the time to cook and feed, themselves or their children. These insights on nutrition are emerging from research we have conducted as part of the consortium Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA). Third, an important use of remittances is for consumption and class mobility, apart from survival, and not necessarily for investing in agricultural productivity (section 4.3). I have case studies of this from Eastern and Northern India as well as Bangladesh, which I am happy to provide. Finally, and somewhat contradictory to the previous point, we find that certain sectors such as fisheries in India are being rapidly capitalised in a context of climate change and resource depletion (section 5.1). In order to survive in such a capitalised sector, migration becomes the only way of raising the required capital. Fisheries in particular requires substantial investments, and this scale of lending is not provided by the public sector banks. Private capital would be too expensive to make the venture viable. We have generated evidence from research based on a grant from the Norwegian Research Council, which we would be happy to share.