Märkte contra Nachhaltige Entwicklung? Cashew- und Ananasanbau in Kerala, Indien


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Märkte contra Nachhaltige Entwicklung? Cashew- und Ananasanbau in Kerala, Indien
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Mensch-Umwelt-Beziehungen und nachhaltige Entwicklung in der Dritten Welt
Véron René
Geographisches Institut, Universität Tübingen
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Kohlhepp Gerd, Coy Martin
Markets Against Sustainable Development? Cultivation of Cashew and Pineapple in Kerala, India -- In the light of economic liberalization, persisting poverty and increasing environmental degradation in many developing countries, it becomes crucial to understand the varied impact of markets for sustainable development. Accordingly, I have used case studies of cashew and pineapple cultivation in the South Indian state of Kerala to illuminate the relationship between agricultural-product markets, agricultural production, development and environmental processes.
In the case of cashew cultivation in Mattanur-Iritty, an important cashew-growing region in Kerala, the export-oriented cashew market, involving gradual changes in relative prices and transaction costs, influenced the cultivators' decisions much less in the recent past than the importance of customary practices, low production costs and bio-physical conditions. Farmers replaced relatively few cashew trees with other, more profitable crops. The cultivation of cashew did not have much impact on local socioeconomic development. Yet, it had a positive effect on the environment in Mattanur-Iritty. Cashew trees control soil erosion and loosen hard lateritic soils. However, positive environmental effects were not specifically induced by the cashew market, except that tightened import regulations in industrialized countries did discourage cashew growers from using very harmful pesticides.
In the case of pineapple cultivation in Vazhakulam, Kerala's main pineapple-growing region, the pineapple market set the pace for the massive growth in the mid-1980s. Deciding factors were general market conditions and the determination of local traders to establish personal contacts to terminal markets in big Indian cities. In addition, technical innovation by local pineapple growers made it possible to time harvests to expected peak demand, and thus improved the marketability of fresh pineapple. Generally, the pineapple market and the growth of pineapple cultivation in Vazhakulam had a positive impact on local socioeconomic development. However, the localized marketing opportunities had a concentrating effect on pineapple cultivation, with negative consequences for the environment in Vazhakulam, as farmers expanded pineapple cultivation into former wetland paddies. On the other hand, the market (that is, pineapple traders and consumers, respectively) did not specifically advocate unsustainable cultivation practices, such as the excessive use of chemical fertilizers.
The findings suggest that the impact of agricultural-product markets on sustainable development is closely linked with other socioeconomic and technical-material factors. Agricultural-product markets, on their own, do not inevitably encourage either sustainable or unsustainable cultivation practices. Markets against sustainable development?: This question cannot be answered definitely but should be asked because markets can have varied impacts on the environment, on various regions and people.
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