Publications by authors named "Ranjay K Singh"

10 Publications

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Mainstreaming Local Food Species for Nutritional and Livelihood Security: Insights From Traditional Food Systems of Community of Arunachal Pradesh, India.

Front Nutr 2021 16;8:590978. Epub 2021 Aug 16.

College of Horticulture and Forestry, Central Agricultural University, Pasighat, India.

This study brings out the critical role of lesser-known local plant species in the food, nutrition and livelihood security of community in Arunachal Pradesh, India. Considering women as a major custodian in knowledge and practices on foods, a total of 90 women and 60 key knowledgeable community members (thus a total of 150 participants) were selected from East Siang and Upper Siang districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Data were collected using combination of methods including recipe contest, focus group discussion, personal interviews and laboratory analyses. The results indicated that women were able to identify 39 bioculturally important species from a range of locally available plant species. Used alone or with other foods, these plants remain central to the people's cultural identity and livelihood security. In addition to improving food and nutritional security, these species accessed from different land use systems, are also sold on the local markets to generate decent incomes. Of the species identified by women, 28 were culturally shared and used frequently in food and ethnomedicine. Laboratory analyses of the selected 22 species revealed exceptionally high levels of minerals and other nutrients, such as proteins and anti-oxidants, supporting their traditional use for health benefits. Our study results provide valuable insights to the researchers to explore the vast hidden potential of these and other similar species for improving nutritional well-being of local communities in marginal areas. Adequate policy support is needed to enable and other such marginalized communities to cope with challenges being posed to traditional food systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2021.590978DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8415219PMC
August 2021

Soil spatial variability characterization: Delineating index-based management zones in salt-affected agroecosystem of India.

J Environ Manage 2021 Oct 13;296:113243. Epub 2021 Jul 13.

ICAR-Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal, 132001, Haryana, India.

Farm level recommendation in salt-affected agricultural landscapes is practically difficult due to spatial variations in inherent soil salinity, diverse farming situations and associated land ownerships with small-scale production systems. This study presents spatial array analysis of 354 geo-referenced soil samples revealing widespread heterogeneity in soil sodicity and fertility status across salt-affected Ghaghar basin of Kaithal district in Haryana, India. Six principal components accounted for 73% of the total variability, and the most important contributors [electrical conductivity (EC), sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), DTPA extractable copper (Cu) and boron (B), soil organic carbon (OC) and available phosphorus (AP)] as minimum data set were used to develop the soil quality index (SQI). Geostatistical analysis revealed Circular (EC and AP), Exponential (SAR, OC and B) and Gaussian (Cu) as the best fit semivariogram ordinary kriging model with weak to moderate spatial dependence. Three soil management zones (SMZs) were delineated by grouping the entire area based on soil quality index (SQI). Fertilizer recommendations for rice-wheat cropping system in different SMZs were calculated using soil test crop response (STCR) equation to ensure balanced fertilization, resource saving and reducing environmental footprints. Gypsum requirement map was prepared for systematic allocation and distribution, and enabling farmers to precisely use the mineral gypsum in order to reclaim and reduce stresses led by sodic lands. The implications of this study showed zone-specific advocacy for gypsum application (as soil ameliorant) and balanced fertilization in sustainable restoration of sodic lands, improving nutrient use efficiency and stabilizing crop production in salt-affected regions of India and similar ecologies elsewhere.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.113243DOI Listing
October 2021

Grassroots Approaches for Sustaining Biocultural Diversity and Livelihood Security: Insights from Indian Eastern Himalaya.

Environ Manage 2021 07 6;68(1):17-37. Epub 2021 Apr 6.

Environmental Law Centre of the Organization for the Strategic Coordination of Environmental Research, Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan.

Bioculturally significant plants, which have played a key role in sustaining the livelihoods of tribal communities of Arunachal Pradesh, India, are facing threats from changing land use patterns, climatic aberrations and socioeconomic stressors. This study highlights two unique grassroots approaches to conserving these species and their associated cultural knowledge within the traditional land use systems of Arunachal Pradesh: Community Knowledge Gardens (CKGs) and Clan Reserve Forests (CRFs). Four CKGs and one CRF, transformed from existing traditional land use systems, were investigated in three socio-ecologically diverse landscapes of Nyishi, Adi and Monpa communities. Study participants, including both men and women, played an active role in devising locally compatible criteria and protocols for strengthening the conservation of key plant species within their traditional land use systems, through CKG and CRF approaches. A total of 86 plant species, conserved through the CKGs and 44 from the Adi CRF, were identified as having high food, ethnomedicinal and cultural values. The Shannon-Weaver index of richness of plant species conserved was highest in the Nyishi CKG, with a value of 38; while for Adi and Monpa it was 30 and 18, respectively. The pattern of Shannon-Weaver diversity index was in the order of 2.91, 2.64 and 2.63, respectively for the CKGs of these three communities. In comparison to individual CKGs, relatively higher species diversity (3.18) was found in the Adi CRF. Increased sharing of traditional knowledge among the community members, regular incomes and equitable sharing of the tangible and intangible benefits of using plant species were identified as important success indicators of the CKGs and CRF. In addition to providing valuable insights on biocultural knowledge and enabling the participants to strengthen their existing local land use practices for conserving valued plant biodiversity, the study outcomes have the potential to inform and strengthen the policies on environmental sustainability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-021-01462-1DOI Listing
July 2021

Measuring successful processes of knowledge co-production for managing climate change and associated environmental stressors: Adaptation policies and practices to support Indian farmers.

J Environ Manage 2021 Mar 8;282:111679. Epub 2021 Jan 8.

ICAR-Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana, India. Electronic address:

Poor access to external resources, and a lack of affordable technologies compatible with socio-economic and ecological settings of rural livelihoods lead to high vulnerability of subsistence farmers to climate change and associated environmental stressors. Traditional knowledge (TK) plays a pivotal role in improving the adaptive capacity of such farmers to cope with these stressors. In India, most of the policies aiming to improve farmers' adaptive capacity are based on a top-down approach and barely consider farmers' TK. Policies can be made more inclusive by mainstreaming stakeholders' perspectives, an approach termed as knowledge co-production. Our study uses a knowledge co-production framework to (i) assess the current state of emphasis on TK and knowledge co-production processes in Indian policies on agricultural adaptation to climate change and associated environmental stressors, (ii) understand the status of TK-led knowledge co-production at the practice level, and (iii) assess the successes and gaps in incorporating TK in agricultural adaptation at the policy and practice levels to manage these stressors. Based on a systematic literature review, we found that despite emphasis on integration of TK, no Indian policy was successful in terms of stakeholder participation and in covering various dimensions of knowledge co-production. Most of the policies covered either two (knowledge gathering and application) or three (gathering, integration and application) dimensions. The term TK was also not clearly defined and it was unclear how to mainstream it into the process for successful outcomes. Co-production process was adjudged to be fairly successful at the practice level in some of the sectors (e.g., management of soil and water resources) where most of the dimensions were covered and stakeholders participated in various steps of co-production. There were significant differences in the success of co-production within (e.g., crop varieties) and between (e.g., crop and natural resource management) the sectors. We found a considerable gap at policy and practice levels on success of knowledge co-production. Insights from the study could help policy-makers to improve policies for the agricultural sector to better adapt to climate change and associated environmental stressors through the recognition and integration of farmers' TK.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.111679DOI Listing
March 2021

Perceived Climate Variability and Compounding Stressors: Implications for Risks to Livelihoods of Smallholder Indian Farmers.

Environ Manage 2020 11 13;66(5):826-844. Epub 2020 Aug 13.

Krishi Vigyan Kendra, ICAR-Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Pali, Rajasthan, India.

Micro-scale perspectives are seldom included in planned climate change adaptations, yet farmers' perceptions can provide useful insights into livelihood impacts from interactions between climatic and other stressors. This research aims to understand how climate variability and other stressors are impacting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Azamgarh district, eastern Uttar Pradesh, India. Data from 84 smallholder farmers were collected using mixed qualitative and quantitative approaches, including interview and participatory methods, informed by multiple stressor and sustainable livelihood frameworks. Results revealed that farmers are increasingly facing problems caused by the reduced duration and number of rainy days, and erratic rainfall. Anomalies in seasonal cycles (longer summers, shorter winters) seem to have altered the local climate. Farmers reported that repeated drought impacts, even in years of moderate rainfall, are adversely affecting the rice crop, challenging the formal definition of drought. Climate variability, identified as the foremost stressor, often acts as a risk multiplier for ecological (e.g., soil sodicity), socio-economic (e.g., rising costs of cultivation) and political (e.g., mismatching policies and poor extension systems) stressors. In addition to climate stresses, resource-poor marginal groups in particular experienced higher risks resulting from changes in resource management regimes. This study provides an important cue to revisit the formal definitions of normal rainfall and drought, accommodating farmers' perceptions that evenly distributed rainfall, and not total rainfall is a key determinant of crop yields. Though India has developed adaptive measures for climate change and variability, integration of farmers' perceptions of climate and other stressors into such policies can improve the resilience of smallholder farmers, who have hitherto depended largely on autonomous adaptation strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-020-01345-xDOI Listing
November 2020

Paisang (Quercus griffithii): a keystone tree species in sustainable agroecosystem management and livelihoods in Arunachal Pradesh, India.

Environ Manage 2015 Jan 25;55(1):187-204. Epub 2014 Oct 25.

College of Horticulture & Forestry, Central Agricultural University, Pasighat, 791102, Arunachal Pradesh, India,

In a study of the traditional livelihoods of 12 Monpa and Brokpa villages in Arunachal Pradesh, India using social-ecological and participatory rural appraisal techniques, we found that the forest tree species paisang (Quercus griffithii, a species of oak) is vital to agroecosystem sustainability. Paisang trees are conserved both by individuals and through community governance, because their leaves play a crucial role in sustaining 11 traditional cropping systems of the Monpa peoples. An Indigenous institution, Chhopa, regulates access to paisang leaves, ensuring that the relationship between paisang and traditional field crop species within Monpa agroecosystems is sustainable. The Monpa farmers also exchange leaves and agricultural products for yak-based foods produced by the transhumant Brokpa, who are primarily yak herders. Yak herds also graze in paisang groves during winter. These practices have enabled the conservation of about 33 landraces, yak breeds, and a number of wild plants. Paisang thus emerged as a culturally important keystone species in the cultures and livelihoods of both Monpa and Brokpa. Ecological and conservation knowledge and ethics about paisang vary with gender, social systems, and altitudes. Labor shortages, however, have already caused some changes to the ways in which paisang leaves are used and yak grazing patterns are also changing in the face of changes in attitude among local landowners. Given new competing interests, incentives schemes are now needed to conserve the ecologically sustainable traditional livelihoods.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-014-0383-yDOI Listing
January 2015

Elderly Adi women of Arunachal Pradesh: "living encyclopedias" and cultural refugia in biodiversity conservation of the Eastern Himalaya, India.

Environ Manage 2013 Sep 4;52(3):712-35. Epub 2013 Jul 4.

College of Horticulture and Forestry, Central Agricultural University, Pasighat 791102, Arunachal Pradesh, India.

Elderly women of a particular socioecological system are considered to be "living encyclopedias" in biocultural knowledge systems. These women play a pivotal role in retaining and passing on biodiversity-related traditional knowledge to the next generations. Unfortunately the fast changing sociocultural values and the impact of modernity have rendered their knowledge somewhat less valuable and they are being treated as "cultural refugia." Our study on the importance of these women in the conservation of indigenous biodiversity was conducted in 14 randomly selected villages dominated by the Adi tribe of East Siang District, Arunachal Pradesh (northeast India). Data were collected from 531 women (381 elderly and 150 young to middle aged) during 2003-2008 using conventional social science methods and participatory rural appraisal. One innovative method, namely "recipe contest," was devised to mobilize Adi women of each village in order to energies them and explore their knowledge relating to traditional foods, ethnomedicines, and conservation of indigenous biodiversity. Results indicated that 55 plant species are being used by elderly Adi women in their food systems, while 34 plant species are integral parts of ethnomedicinal practices. These women identified different plant species found under multistory canopies of community forests. Elderly women were particularly skilled in preparing traditional foods including beverages and held significantly greater knowledge of indigenous plants than younger women. Lifelong experiences and cultural diversity were found to influence the significance of biodiversity use and conservation. The conservation of biodiversity occurs in three different habitats: jhum lands (shifting cultivation), Morang forest (community managed forests), and home gardens. The knowledge and practice of elderly women about habitats and multistory vegetations, regenerative techniques, selective harvesting, and cultivation practices contribute significantly to food and livelihood security while sustaining an array of threatened plant species. Basically, knowledge of elderly women on using biodiversity in food and medicinal systems was found in three categories namely: "individual," "community," and "refined." We identified a need to develop holistic policies to recognize and integrate knowledge and practices of elderly women with local level of planning on sustainable conservation of biodiversity as well as community-based adaptations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-013-0113-xDOI Listing
September 2013

Biomass production in agroforestry and forestry systems on salt-affected soils in South Asia: exploration of the GHG balance and economic performance of three case studies.

J Environ Manage 2013 Sep 26;127:324-34. Epub 2013 Jun 26.

Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands.

This study explores the greenhouse gas balance and the economic performance (i.e. net present value (NPV) and production costs) of agroforestry and forestry systems on salt-affected soils (biosaline (agro)forestry) based on three case studies in South Asia. The economic impact of trading carbon credits generated by biosaline (agro)forestry is also assessed as a potential additional source of income. The greenhouse gas balance shows carbon sequestration over the plantation lifetime of 24 Mg CO2-eq. ha(-1) in a rice-Eucalyptus camaldulensis agroforestry system on moderately saline soils in coastal Bangladesh (case study 1), 6 Mg CO2-eq. ha(-1) in the rice-wheat- Eucalyptus tereticornis agroforestry system on sodic/saline-sodic soils in Haryana state, India (case study 2), and 96 Mg CO2-eq. ha(-1) in the compact tree (Acacia nilotica) plantation on saline-sodic soils in Punjab province of Pakistan. The NPV at a discount rate of 10% is 1.1 k€ ha(-1) for case study 1, 4.8 k€ ha(-1) for case study 2, and 2.8 k€ ha(-1) for case study 3. Carbon sequestration translates into economic values that increase the NPV by 1-12% in case study 1, 0.1-1% in case study 2, and 2-24% in case study 3 depending on the carbon credit price (1-15 € Mg(-1) CO2-eq.). The analysis of the three cases indicates that the economic performance strongly depends on the type and severity of salt-affectedness (which affect the type and setup of the agroforestry system, the tree species and the biomass yield), markets for wood products, possibility of trading carbon credits, and discount rate.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.05.060DOI Listing
September 2013

Conservation of socioculturally important local crop biodiversity in the Oromia region of Ethiopia: a case study.

Environ Manage 2012 Sep 24;50(3):352-64. Epub 2012 Jun 24.

Institute of Biodiversity Conservation (IBC), P.O. Box 30726, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In this study, we surveyed diversity in a range of local crops in the Lume and Gimbichu districts of Ethiopia, together with the knowledge of local people regarding crop uses, socio-economic importance, conservation, management and existing threats. Data were collected using semistructured interviews and participant observation. The study identified 28 farmers' varieties of 12 crop species. Among these, wheat (Triticum turgidum) and tef (Eragrostis tef) have high intra-specific diversity, with 9 and 6 varieties respectively. Self-seed supply or seed saving was the main (80 %) source of seeds for replanting. Agronomic performance (yield and pest resistance), market demand, nutritional and use diversity attributes of the crop varieties were highlighted as important criteria for making decisions regarding planting and maintenance. Over 74 % of the informants grow a combination of "improved" and farmers' varieties. Of the farmers' varieties, the most obvious decline and/or loss was reported for wheat varieties. Introduction of improved wheat varieties, pest infestation, shortage of land, low yield performance and climate variability were identified as the principal factors contributing to this loss or decline. Appropriate interventions for future conservation and sustainable use of farmers' varieties were suggested.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-012-9883-9DOI Listing
September 2012

"Tinni" rice (Oryza rufipogon Griff.) production: an integrated sociocultural agroecosystem in eastern Uttar Pradesh of India.

Environ Manage 2012 Jan 30;49(1):26-43. Epub 2011 Sep 30.

Department of Technology Evaluation and Transfer, Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, CSSRI Campus, Karnal, Haryana 132001, India.

This study reports how Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and informal cultural institutions have conserved key varieties of the wildgrowing rice, 'tinni' (red rice, or brownbeard rice, Oriza rufipogon Griff.), within the Bhar community of eastern Uttar Pradesh, India. The study was conducted, using conventional and participatory methods, in 10 purposively selected Bhar villages. Two distinct varieties of tinni ('tinni patali' and 'tinni moti') with differing habitats and phenotypic characters were identified. Seven microecosystems (Kari, Badaila, Chammo, Karmol, Bhainsiki, Bhainsala and Khodailia) were found to support these varieties in differing proportions. Tinni rice can withstand more extreme weather conditions (the highest as well as lowest temperatures and rainfall regimes) than the 'genetically improved' varieties of rice (Oriza sativa L.) grown in the region. Both tinni varieties are important bioresources for the Bhar's subsistence livelihoods, and they use distinctive conservation approaches in their maintenance. Bhar women are the main custodians of tinni rice agrobiodiversity, conserving tinni through an institution called Sajha. Democratic decision-making at meetings organized by village elders determines the market price of the tinni varieties. Overall, the indigenous institutions and women's participation seem to have provided safeguards from excessive exploitation of tinni rice varieties. The maintenance of tinni through cultural knowledge and institutions serves as an example of the importance of locally maintained crop varieties in contributing to people's resilience and food security in times of rapid social and environmental change.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00267-011-9755-8DOI Listing
January 2012
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