As the producers of most of the food for consumption across the Global South, smallholder farmers are vital to the food security of millions of people around the world. Yet, the future of their livelihoods is growing increasingly uncertain, as planning and policies often ignore the needs of smallholder farmers (Altieri, Funes-Monzonte, & Peterson, 2012).
The lack of policy consideration for smallholder farmers exacerbates the negative impacts of external forces, such as extreme weather events, urbanization, and globalization of the food system. In India’s rural state of Odisha, though 61% of the workforce is employed in the agricultural sector, farming is no longer economically viable with 93% of farmers choosing to supplement their income with off-farm labor. Agricultural land available for farming across the state has also decreased by 14% between 1991 and 2014.
External forces create significant financial and emotional hardship, which forces smallholder farmers to sell their land for development, or fall into debt (Hazell & Rahman, 2014).
As farming becomes less viable for farmers around the world, local governments may face serious consequences such as rising rates of poverty and increasing dependence on foreign food production, threatening well-being of smallholder farmers and entire populations (FAO, 2014). This research explores the ways in which external forces –of urbanization, globalization of the food system, and extreme weather –threaten the current and future well-being of smallholder farmers in the Bargarh, Koraput, and Khordhadistricts of Odisha in India.