RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016

RGS-IBG Logo

303 Connecting food system sustainability and resilience through a geographical lens (2): Resilient Food systems 2
Affiliation Rural Geography Research Group
Food Geographies Working Group
Convenor(s) Damian Maye (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
James Kirwan (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
Chair(s) Damian Maye (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
Timetable Friday 02 September 2016, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Session abstract The aim of this session is to connect thinking and theoretical perspectives from resilience theory with food system sustainability approaches, discourses and assessment methodologies. Contributions from human and physical geography are encouraged, including evaluating the role and application of geographical perspectives and concepts that emphasise and apply resilience thinking in relation to geographies of food production and consumption. The external pressures driving the agri-food system are widely documented (e.g. climate change, price volatility, food insecurity, urbanisation), and procedures, processes and methods to evaluate food system sustainability well-known within agri-food geography (e.g. LCA, metabolic analysis, multi-criteria assessments, participatory analysis). However, critiques are emerging about the usefulness of sustainability as a framing concept for food system analysis. Missing within such assessments is an appreciation of the dynamic properties of sustainability performance and agri-food system transformation, and the need to link sustainability assessments to frameworks and approaches that capture change at a system level, as well as connect food provisioning with the use of key resources such as land, water and energy. Resilience thinking has much to offer in this regard, particularly through its focus on systems as having dynamic properties and its emphasis on drivers of change. Taking this perspective enables, for example, connections to be made between coping/adaption strategies and mechanisms, as well as ideas related to social and community resilience and resilience ethics. This session provides an opportunity to explore how resilience thinking can be applied to geographies of agri-food sustainability and transformation, thereby facilitating resilience and adaptation, across a range of geographical perspectives and scales. Papers might address one or more of the following themes: Applying resilience thinking and related concepts to issues including vulnerability, transition, risk management, adaptation, and transformation; Approaches to resilience, such as: socio-ecological resilience, system resilience, regional resilience, social resilience, community resilience, and farm-level resilience; Sustainability science, post-normal science and resilience thinking; Resilience perspectives as a means to ‘open up’ agri-food sustainability concepts; Collective responsibility and resilience ethics; Drivers of change and coping strategies; Case studies and methodologies that examine resilience across the food chain at a range of geographical scales and spatial contexts, including the Global North and the Global South; AFNs, civic food networks, urban agriculture and resilience; Connections between food, other key resources and resilience framings; The role of policy in promoting agri-food sustainability through resilience
Linked Sessions Connecting food system sustainability and resilience through a geographical lens (1): Resilient Food Systems 1
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
Spatio-economic modelling of agricultural resilience
Robert Berry (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
Mauro Vigani (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
The aim of this paper is to investigate the impact of agricultural land diversity on the stability of farm performance. The planned approach will build on previous research in this area (Abson et al., 2013) by combining GIS-based spatial analysis and economic modelling to advance understanding of the relationship between the heterogeneity of agricultural landscapes and the resilience of agricultural returns. Using case studies in Italy and/or the United Kingdom, the project will further test the hypothesis that "…decreasing land-use diversity results in landscapes that provide higher, but more volatile economic returns" (Abson et al., 2013 p. 1). High-resolution land cover data will be combined with other geospatial environmental datasets (e.g. climate, soils) within a GIS framework to calculate indices of agricultural landscape diversity and agricultural vulnerability at various spatial scales within each study area sub-region. The resulting indices will then be spatially joined to a time-series of economic datasets on agricultural/farm performance (e.g. Farm Business Survey) in order to provide a multi-dimensional analysis (e.g. impact assessment models, geographically weighted regression) of the links between landscape diversity, environmental vulnerability and the resilience of agricultural production. It is hoped that the results of this work will prove useful for informing strategic thinking on land-food nexus issues.
Making the connections between medium and small-scale dairy farmers and inshore fishers: a resilience perspective
James Kirwan (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
Damian Maye (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
Mauro Vigani (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
Dilshaad Bundhoo (University of Gloucestershire, UK)
At first sight it might appear incongruous to try and make connections between dairy farmers and inshore fishers, but in reality they face many of the same issues. These include an ageing working population, a lack of inter-generational succession, regulatory pressures (via either the CAP or the CFP), access to finance, environmental restrictions, and an underlying struggle to remain financially viable in the face of price volatility and uncertain access to markets. As such, both groups of producers are inherently exposed to high levels of risk, as well as having a potentially limited ability to manage and mitigate that risk. This paper adopts a resilience perspective to examine the underlying conditions confronting these two groups of primary food producers, as well as the range of strategies they employ as they seek to overcome their vulnerability. In doing so, it is important to consider the scale at which this is done and to focus on the specifics of place rather than generalities. This paper, in drawing on case study work conducted in the South-West of England (inshore fisheries) and Cheshire / Staffordshire (medium and small-scale dairy farmers) as part of the EU-funded H2020 project, SUFISA (Sustainable finance for sustainable agriculture and fisheries), compares conditions and mitigation strategies adopted by both sets of actors. The analysis reveals some sector differences but also a common pool of resilience strategies, including: pluriactivity, diversification and intensification; but also, on occasions, maladaptation and exit from the industry. A key finding is that in both cases the producers' high level of dependency on natural resources, as well as relative insignificance as economic actors, exposes them to high levels of risk and uncertainty and potentially low levels of resilience.
Bouncing Back to Before? The Persistence of Food Insecurity amid Resilient Livelihoods in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone
Jerram Bateman (University of Otago, New Zealand)
Etienne Nel (University of Otago, New Zealand)
Tony Binns (University of Otago, New Zealand)
In recent decades, Sierra Leone has been stalked by social, economic and environmental instability. Thirty years of often corrupt and dysfunctional governance led to a brutal civil war throughout the 1990s, which resulted in more than 50,000 deaths, and the displacement of over half the population; climate change has created uncertainty regarding the sustainability of traditional agricultural practices; and communicable diseases such as malaria and Lassa Fever remain constant threats, while the recent Ebola epidemic has had a significant impact on the predominantly agricultural population's ability to generate a livelihood. Throughout this time, rural communities within Sierra Leone have demonstrated remarkable resilience, adapting livelihood strategies in order to mitigate the impact of each challenge, which has enabled reasonably rapid recovery in times of relative stability. Despite such resilience, however, nearly half of households in Sierra Leone are classified as food insecure. Further, field research undertaken in 1974 and 2014 in Panguma and Kayima, two small towns in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone, has uncovered little change in the manifestation and magnitude of food insecurity over that time. As such, this paper argues that resilience, in itself, is not sufficient to ensure food security within vulnerable communities, and that resilience thinking may even be detrimental in some contexts, as both internal and external actors can become resigned to the food system 'bouncing back' to its previous capacity, rather than seeking to improve it.
Farmer knowledge and attitudes towards climate change adaptation in the northern Nigerian drylands
Nugun Patrick Jellason (Royal Agricultural University, UK)
Richard Baines (Royal Agricultural University, UK)
John Conway (Royal Agricultural University, UK)
Studies on climate change scenarios for Nigeria show maximum temperatures increasing, length of rainy season shortened and time of rainfall onset prolonged across the country most especially in the north Western part where it is mostly dry (Abiodun et al., 2011). Researchers argue that dryland farmers of northern Nigeria are knowledgeable and experienced enough to manage their dry conditions (Mortimore and Adam 1999; Mortimore and Tiffen, 1995) often showing a return to normal state of the production and pastoral systems after stress as a sign of persistence and resilience (Mortimore, 1998). However, the predicted increasing impacts of climate change will test this resilience and sub-Saharan African smallholders in different ways that are likely to be beyond the experience of these smallholders. Hence the need to augment their knowledge with external expertise in order to build resilience into their production systems going forward (Frank and Penrose Buckley, 2012; Danjuma et al. 2014). In the past, development project failures based on science-based external intervention for dryland management only, has created an environmental distrust in such activities. However, by acknowledging the collective knowledge of local farmers to adapt to their environment allied to additional training for adaptation could be more appropriate (Mortimore, 1998). This paper aims to appraise to what extent external knowledge can augment farmer indigenous knowledge for climate change adaptation and mitigation in the drylands of northern Nigeria. The overall goal of science based evidence forming the foundation to social science engagement favours the use of mixed methods approach to investigate this issue in a pragmatic way.
Discussant
Gareth Enticott (Cardiff University, UK)
Discussant