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Global connections, local transformations : women, agriculture and activism in Ladakh, India Tarbotton, Rebecca

Abstract

This study looks at the connections between the impacts of the globalization of food and farming on women, nature and farming communities and cultures in North and South and the growing movement of resistance and renewal, in the case of the Ladakh Farm Project (LFP). In Ladakh, the development of agriculture is having detrimental effects upon community, ecology and women farmers, and women are taking an active role in revitalising and protecting their local agriculture. The LFP is a project that is jointly run by the Women's Alliance of Ladakh (WAL), and organisation that was created specifically to give voice to Ladakhi women's perspectives, and the International Society for Ecology and Culture, a U.K.-based Non-governmental Organisation (NGO). The LFP aims to support Ladakhi agriculture and cultivate greater understanding about how conventional growth-oriented development has affected cultures and communities all over the world and about possible solutions, by fostering deeper connections and dialogue between Westerners and Ladakhis. A SWOT analysis of the LFP was conducted based upon data gathered from indepth interviews with Ladakhi hosts and reports written by participants as well as group meetings and discussions with organisers. Each phase of the project cycle was then analysed in terms of potential solutions to the challenges. The analysis reveals that communication barriers and differing expectations about the project create challenges for participants, host families and organisers. Despite these obstacles, the LFP is found to have a profound impact on participants and is considered by their Ladakhi hosts to be beneficial, both practically and in terms of cultural exchange and dialogue. The strength of the WAL as a decentralised women's organisation still firmly rooted in local cultural and ecological values combined with the ISEC's long history in Ladakh provides strong foundations for the LFP and for the potential to scale-up the project. A similar project could be replicated in a different context but its efficacy would depend largely upon strong partnership between a local and international organisation. There is however potential for the model to be adapted and used in different contexts such as urban centres.

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