Livelihoods On The Move: Understanding The Linkages Between Migration and Household Food Security In India

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 11:15 AM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Chetan CHOITHANI , Human Geography, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Using the Sustainable Livelihood approach, this paper aims to highlight the role of migration as a livelihood strategy in influencing the food security outcomes among rural households in India. Food security is a key global challenge and India accounts for nearly a quarter of the world’s 870 million undernourished people. A large majority of India’s food insecure population resides in rural areas that is either landless or own small agricultural holdings and thus, excessively depends on wage labour to meet their income and food needs. However, the undeveloped rural labour markets imply that they have to seek the wage income in the distant labour markets. The traditional importance of migration in the livelihood systems of rural poor notwithstanding, recent years have witnessed an unprecedented surge in rural outmigration in India. It is important to note that the most dominant pattern of rural outmigration involves migration by relatively younger males while the other household members stay behind. From the perspective of food security, this pattern of migration implies that through channels such as remittances and changes in gender roles; migration can have a potential bearing on household food security outcomes. Drawing from the primary survey of 400 rural households in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, this paper attempts to highlights these linkages. The findings suggest that despite the distressed-induced nature of rural migration from Bihar, remittances contribute positively to household food security and food diversity outcomes. Not only migration income helps improve the ability of household to buy food from the market, it also provides additional resources to invest in agriculture which in turn, improves the own-production food entitlements of migrant households. The findings warrant policy attention to remove the barriers to mobility which could foster the food security outcomes of rural households in India.