Pastoralist Parliament: a place to be heard and seen

With my colleague and friend Monika Agarwal, I have just published a short article in the magazine Farming Matters on the pastoralist parliaments in Guajart, India

In the article we write:

In India, pastoralists have long struggled to make their voices heard. Cultural and religious differences have exacerbated this situation. But a new initiative is allowing them to assert their identity, identify as a collective, and generate political momentum. The Pastoral Parliament represents a key space for pastoralists to meet, discuss and take decisions about the issues affecting them, without political, religious or caste-based segregation.

You can read the piece here


Solutions for a Food Secure World: Special Issue

I am very please to announce that a special issue of the journal Solutions showcasing a diversity of solutions for future food security has just been uploaded online. The diverse range of solutions have been proposed by young thinkers from around the world.

Megan Bailey and I would like to thank everyone who worked hard to get this issue out!

contributors solutions.png

Here is the link to the issue and below you can find a list of the contributions! Happy Reading.


Solutions for a Food Secure World by Jessica Duncan and Megan Bailey

Shifting Power Relations and Poor Practices in Land Deals through Participatory Action in Marracune, Mozambique by Helena Shilomboleni

Food Sovereignty in Rebellion: Decolonization, Autonomy, Gender Equity, and the Zapatista Solution by Levi Gahman


Valuing What Really Matters: A Look at Soil Currency by Randall Coleman

Decreasing Distance and Re-Valuing Local: How Place-Based Food Systems Can Foster Socio-Ecological Sustainability by Susanna E. Klassen

Reversing the Burden of Proof for Sustainable Aquaculture by Simon R. Bush

Alternative Foods as a Solution to Global Food Supply Catastrophes by Seth D. Baum, David C. Denkenberger, and Joshua M. Pearce

Black Soldier Fly: A Bio Tool for Converting Food Waste into Livestock Feed by Marwa Shumo


The Importance of Hunting for Future Inuit Food Security by C. Hoover, S. Ostertag, C. Hornby, C. Parker, K. Hansen-Craik, L.L. Loseto, and T. Pearce

Crediting Farmers for Nutrient Stewardship: Using Carbon Markets to Create Positive Environmental Change by Elizabeth Hardee
Circular Solutions for Linear Problems: Principles for Sustainable Food Futures by Stefano Pascucci and Jessica Duncan

Transparency for Just Seafood Systems by Megan Bailey and Niklas Egels Zandén


India’s Pastoralist Communities: Solutions for Survival Monika Agarwal Interviewed by Jessica Duncan

Book Review

Cities at the Forefront of Future Food Solutions by Aniek Hebinck

Empowering Agriculture: Fostering Resilience – Securing Food and Nutrition

The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) 2014 is being held from 16 – 18 January 2014 in Berlin.

The theme is: Empowering Agriculture: Fostering Resilience – Securing Food and Nutrition

The key to overcoming hunger at global level is the development of a productive, adaptable and resilient agriculture sector based on three key elements: diversity, sustainability and productivity. However, in many places, efforts to establish efficient structures in agriculture face major challenges: The increasing competition for scarce natural resources, the consequences of climate change and the loss of biodiversity and soil fertility all constitute obstacles to using and utilising agricultural production potential. Economic and financial crises and the increasing volatility on the agricultural markets lessen the inclination to invest in the agricultural sector and consequently reduce the sector’s productivity. Extreme weather events threaten agricultural structures. In addition to this, in many places tackling the current challenges is made even more difficult by other factors such as social inequality, a lack of know-how and a lack of access to education and capital.

How can agricultural problems be detected earlier and addressed in a more targeted way? Which exemplary approaches, strategies and projects already exist, at national, regional and international level, for improving the resilience of agricultural and rural structures? How can farmers be strengthened, economic risks be reduced and also economic and social participation be improved? How can agriculture, as a key sector, make its decisive contribution to overcoming hunger and malnutrition? These and other questions are to be discussed at GFFA 2014.


Two sessions will deal with pastoralism and sustainable livestock:

  • Pastoralism and food security: The hunger of the forgotten, organized by Vétérinaires sans Frontières Germany, Centre for Rural Development/SLE and the League for Pastoral Peoples
  • Sustainable livestock: What are the options?, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

More info here:


Gendering Food Security

Last year I spoke at a workshop on gender and food security

The summary has been posted:

This workshop addressed the international gender dimensions of food security, focusing on women as producers as well as consumers of food. It explored the significance of gender in developing policies that will reduce rather than exacerbate gender-based inequalities in a situation of food inequalities and climate change.

Some 60 people from around the UK, and representing many disciplines and professions, took part, listening to and engaging with the 4 speakers below, from lunch onwards. The discussions were lively and wide-ranging, and were reluctantly halted only at 5.30 (to allow distant travellers to leave for trains); but most carried on, talking and networking, over drinks. It was a very good occasion. Thanks to Dr Deb Butler and Prof Nickie Charles (both in Department of Sociology) for organizing and facilitating it.

Topics and Speakers

Chair: Prof Liz Dowler (Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, and member of CSWG and the Food Global Priority Programme)

Women farmers and workers in Gender Production Networks: Surviving the Cocoa-Chocolate Sourcing in Ghana and India.
Dr Stephanie Barrientos, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester.

Women Livestock Keepers and the White Revolution: Assessing the impacts of dairy coops on the pastoralists of Gujarat, India.
Ms Jessica Duncan, Centre for Food Policy, City University London.

Food Security, sustainable livelihoods and gender in South Africa.
Dr Stefanie Lemke, Department of Gender and Nutrition, Institute for Social Sciences in Agriculture, University of ohenheim.

Gender, Climate Change & Food Security in South Asia
Dr Lopamudra Patnaik Saxena, independent academic researcher and consultant.


Case Study Submissions on Dryland Planning

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) are inviting case study submissions for presentation at a stakeholder meeting to be held on the 6-7th November 2013, in Nairobi.
The meeting will consider strategies for effectively and sustainably managing change in the ASALs of Kenya.
In the context of significant changes such as investments, infrastructure development, mineral exploration and climate change, and in light of the opportunities presented by devolution IUCN and AWF wish to work with County governments to consider the role of land-use planning as a decision making tool that supports adaptation and development whilst maintaining the functionality of the system and critical ecosystem goods and services.  This meeting is as an opportunity for ASAL county representatives to come together to discuss these common challenges and opportunities, and to begin to explore the most appropriate mechanisms for collaborative decision making that ensure the sustainable and adaptive growth of the ASALs.
The meeting organisers would like to receive case study submissions, for short 10 minute panel presentations and follow-on debate.  The case studies should describe successful land use and natural resource planning processes in dryland environments, and explain what was successful?  Why?  Who was involved?  and how?  And consider the following:
  •         Scale of planning
  •         Trade offs/negotiations – who was involved and how?
  •         Climate Smart planning?
  •         Information and unit of analysis
  •         Sustainability and green economy considerations
Case studies from across non-governmental, private and public sectors are welcomed.  If interested please submit to Sarah Gibbons at sarahgwork (@) by 22nd October 2013.


Walk with Shepherds

Looks like there is a new initiative to help collect data on pastoralists.

Follow the Sheep is letting people sign up to walk with  shepherds for a few days. People interested in walking with the sheep to collect track information using GPS and other information related to the land, the sheep and the shepherds such as the CPRs, the water bodies, the pastures, the farms and roads, the forests and the green, and the lives of the communities.


I know nothing about where this came from but it does sound intriguing. If I understand correctly, you put a marker on a map, identifying your location. I did that this morning and am waiting to find out what happens next.

Here is their blurb on the value of pastoralism for biodiversity.

A common perception amongst many is the negative contribution of pastoralists and pastoralism to the environment and biodiversity. Contrary to this perception, pastoralism actually benefits biodiversity in a number of ways. To begin with, pastoralists maintain animals of different breeds which helps maintain livestock biodiversity. In fact a significant part of the diversity of livestock breeds the world over is maintained by pastoral communities. Pastoralism helps keep floral biodiversity alive through the dispersal of seeds. Grazing by animals also helps biodiversity as certain dominant species are kept in check. The traditional knowledge of pastoralists related to forage, fodder and medicinal plants is encyclopedic and is invaluable for future generations. Many predatory wild animals feed on domesticated stock maintained by pastoralists for their nourishment. Thus, indirectly pastoralists and pastoralism helps certain ecosystems such as grasslands flourish. This contribution is not visible or is not recognized by different agencies especially the forest departments and animal husbandry departments and there is considerable pressure put on pastoralists to sedentarize and give up existing systems of production. Instead forces of development promote industrial and contract farming, both of which threaten livestock species biodiversity. Bans on grazing will also put increased pressure on agricultural land to be diverted to fodder crops and threaten both agricultural diversity and food availability. The pastoral economy although poorly recognized is important for bringing food to the table in many marginal areas of the world. If pastoral systems were to stop it would actually pose an enormous threat to biodiversity.

The White Revolution and the reordering of relations amongst the pastoralists of Gujarat, India: A case for pastoralist policies.

I have a new article out in the journal Food Chain. I am apparently not allowed to post it for copyright reasons but hopefully those interested can access through their libraries!

REFERENCE: Duncan, Jessica. 2013. The White Revolution and the reordering of relations amongst the pastoralists of Gujarat, India: A case for pastoralist policies.  Food Chain. 2(1&2): 89-103.



This paper introduces India’s dairy policy before analysing some of the implications of these policies on the pastoralists of Gujarat State, illustrating the need for pastoralist-appropriate policies. The paper argues that on the basis of mounting ecological and economic data, dairy policy in India needs to consider pastoralist management systems and livelihoods and develop appropriate policies and programmes to support them.  While the programmes have created important opportunities for increased earning potential for pastoralists, they have also lead to negative consequences for food security, traditional livelihoods and livestock diversity. A recognizable neoliberal turn in Indian dairy policy will most likely amplify negative impacts of the previous programme and potentially compromise existing best practices. The paper concludes with policy recommendations and a call to ground future policy processes with the normative and analytical right to adequate food framework.

Keywords: Pastoralism; White Revolution; Gujarat; India; Mission Milk; Participation