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Village Dynamics in South Asia

In 2009, ICRISAT teamed up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to engage stakeholders worldwide in Village Dynamics Studies to understand the dynamics of rural poverty. With funding from the Foundation, ICRISAT launched the project on "Tracking change in rural poverty in village and household economies in South Asia", known as "Village Dynamics in South Asia" (VDSA). The five-year project effective 1st May 2009 endeavors to break the cycle of hunger and poverty through better-informed decisions that will enrich efforts to improve the plight of small farmers in South Asia.

The project is unique in the developing world since it brings a long-term, multi-generational perspective to agricultural, social and economic change, and provides an extraordinary level of detailed collection of information on farming activities and household economy. Together, these form a unique learning tool that tremendously enhances developmental support with a high investment-success ratio in the marginalized regions of South Asia. By mobilizing social scientists globally to conduct research in the most impoverished regions of the developing world, the project serves as an example to emulate for national programs in developing countries.

The project aims to decrease the incidence and severity of absolute poverty in South Asia’s semi-arid and humid tropics by markedly increasing the availability of time series individual-, household-, district-, and field-level data. Thus the project seeks to improve the quantity and quality of time series meso and micro data so that decision-making is based on evidence on impacts on the poor.

Its specific aims are:

  1. To track changes in the livelihood options of the rural poor
  2. To understand farmers’ response to changing markets, policies and technologies
  3. To understand farmers’ perceptions on climate change and their coping mechanisms
  4. To provide a socio-economic field laboratory for teaching and training students and researchers
  5. To provide feedback for designing policy interventions, setting research priorities and refining technologies
  6. To understand the dynamics of agricultural transformation.