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Ecostrategies in theory and practice: Farmer's perspectives on water, nutrients and sustainability in low-resource agriculture in the dry zone of Sri Lanka
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
1988 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]


The need for a sustainable man - nature relationship has long been a neglected aspect of development theory. The increasing awareness of this negligence has led to a search for development strategies alternative to conventional industrial growth. The conceptual framework concerning man's relation to nature is, however, unclear, and it is notknown how this is reflected empirically.


Three main types of views and practical utilizations of natural resources('ecostrategies') were identified ('domination: 'active adaptation' and 'passive adaptation'). This framework was elaborated upon by investigating five villages characterized by low-resource agriculture (paddy rice and shifting cultivation) in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Information about the farmers' views and practices concerning rainfall andnutrients in agriculture was collected with the help of surveys and semi-structured interviews. The information was collected within an interdisciplinary research project in which Sri Lankan and Swedish researchers collaborated.


The green revolution package of High Yielding Varieties (HYV's ), chemical fertilizers and other agrochemicals, was introduced in the studied villages mainly in the 1950's and 1960's but still irregularly used. The farmers were well aware of the resulting higher yields when using these industrialized inputs. The majority wanted to increase theiruse, but regarded the cost as a major limitation. Most of thern believed that it was necessary to use the new inputs, but they were also worried about long-term, environmental effects. They contrasted these negative aspects of this type of 'domination' ecostrategy with a more 'adaptation' ecostrategy of the past. There was a belief that there had been a decrease in the fertility of the soil and the quality of crops, whichwas paralleled in the perception of a general decrease in precipitation.

In general the farmers' knowledge concerning various aspects of their impact upon nature was quite good. Their perception of a general deterioration of the resource base must mainly be seen as a reflection of increasing resource pressure due to a larger population. In the current context, this means that the traditional 'adaptation' strategy is closer to 'passive adaptation' to nature. A potential for any 'active' development oflocal resources (e.g., dung and greenmanure andlocally adaptevarieties) was generally not recognized. The ethnoperspective of man and nature involves a moral connotation. The worries about the long-term effects of the industrial agricultural inputs without recognized alternatives, present a challenging topic for further research and policy making.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 1988. , 198 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 19
Keyword [en]
Attitudes towards nature, Alternative development, Carrying capacity, Development strategies, Development theory, Diffusion, Dry zone of Sri Lanka, Ecodevelopment, Ethnoperspective, Fertilizers, Green revolution, Human ecology, Human geography, Low-resource agriculture, Small-scale farming, Sustainable development, Village irrigation.
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-35340Local ID: 26386ISBN: 91-7870-332-8OAI: diva2:256188
Public defence
1988-05-02, Sal Elysion, Hus-T, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 15:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2009-10-10 Created: 2009-10-10 Last updated: 2012-05-29Bibliographically approved

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