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Thaan Vuzha Nilam Tharisu: The land without a farmer becomes barren

This report forms a part of the international research project on policy and sustainable agriculture, Policies that Work for Sustainable Agriculture and Regenerated Rural Economies. The report details the findings of one of the constituent studies, undertaken by an Indian NGO, the Society for People’s Education and Economic Change (SPEECH). The Importance of this project is that it concentrated on rainfed rather than irrigated agriculture - i.e. the sharp end of rural development in India, and that the focus was very much on the micro-level, looking at policy as seen from the ground. One of the recurring themes throughout the research was the importance of appreciating people as individuals, and in this spirit some of the personal qualities of the research team are shared. The research covers events in sites in the Virudhunagar district of Tamilnadu: Tiruchuli Panchayat Union and the Villur chain of tanks. This is an essentially rural area, where the need for sustainable forms of agriculture and rural livelihoods is clear. The political landscape is fractured and complex (§2.3), and the officials with the responsibility of implementing policy face significant obstacles and disincentives in doing so in response to the needs of local communities.

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