Urban wastewater for agriculture : farmers’ perspectives from peri-urban Bengaluru

Purushothaman, Seema and Patil, Sheetal and Vanjari, Raghvendra S. and A. R., Shwetha (2021) Urban wastewater for agriculture : farmers’ perspectives from peri-urban Bengaluru. Working Paper. Azim Premji University, Bengauru.

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Urbanisation, while offering marketing opportunities, inflicts considerable impacts on ecology, health, and livelihoods in the peri-urban farming areas. The city demands perishable products that need input intensive farming. In parallel, it also discharges domestic sewage and industrial effluents into peri-urban water bodies. The availability of wastewater for irrigation has been a saviour for peri-urban farmers, amidst the many constraints they face. Using nutrient-rich wastewater is also a smart strategy of combining fertiliser application with irrigation. This can balance nutrient flows between the consumption and production hubs. Concomitant and discernible implications of this process on the health of farmers, consumers, and the peri-urban environment, rarely receive needed attention. Even the discourse on sustainable cities seldom conveys the imperative of reducing consumptive use of water to curtail its forward and backward impacts. A participatory assessment using focus group discussions, multi-criteria mapping and a stakeholder workshop was conducted in Byramangala in order to understand the farmers’ perspectives on their future as beneficiaries of wastewater (domestic sewage with industrial effluents) generated in the Vrishabhavathy watershed of Bengaluru city. Farmers were trying hard to adapt to the heavily polluted environment manifested in the restricted choice of crops, lower prices fetched by their produce, health impacts and resultant socio-cultural fallouts. The study also revealed high priority that farmers attach to health imparting attributes of agriculture. Their concerns on the two possible scenarios of wastewater supply were elicited. Farmers’ preference for effectively treated wastewater was found to be overshadowed by its potential diversion for urban use. Despite concerns on water quality, they were keen to continue agriculture and would expect to be informed in advance about any impending diversions. The political-economic ‘eminent domain’ of urbanism excludes the farmer constituency from strategizing freshwater extraction and the disposal of its wastewater. It needs to be confronted with concerted efforts to build institutional capacities for a decentralised wastewater governance, inclusive of downstream farmers, in place of pacifying measures like installing subsidised water purifiers for domestic use. The development and sustainability benefits of such efforts will include reliable farm livelihoods built on regional circular economies along with safe and healthy food and the environment in the urban - peri-urban continuum.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Authors: Purushothaman, Seema and Patil, Sheetal and Vanjari, Raghvendra S. and A. R., Shwetha
Document Language:
Uncontrolled Keywords: wastewater irrigation, Multi-criteria mapping, Peri-urban agriculture, Byramangala, Bengaluru
Subjects: Natural Sciences > Life sciences; biology > Ecology
Divisions: Azim Premji University > University Publications > Working Paper
Full Text Status: Public
Related URLs:
URI: http://publications.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/id/eprint/2477
Publisher URL: https://azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/SitePages/pdf/...

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