عنوان مقاله [English]
Food security over the past decade was one of the main objectives of rural development policies in many countries. Agricultural policies such as productive improvement, conservation and utilization of water and land resources are being considered in the heart of development projects. Among these initiatives to achieve improved quality of infrastructure, environment and welfare is the land consolidation and land rehabilitation plans. In the otherwise small farm landholdings couples with scattered plots have created a major challenge for agricultural development in Iran. Land fragmentation provides an appropriate strategy to overcome current problems in Iranian farming systems. Thus, agriculture is the major source of food security in the world. For food security to ensure, agricultural policies such as water management, land improvement projects and land consolidation should be included in the heart of development projects. Studies show that land consolidation and land rehabilitation affects food security of rural households. However, most land improvement projects are implemented with limited attention to participation of stakeholders. Thus, these projects have low satisfaction level among the rural population. During the past decade, there has been increasing demand for water management strategies across rural areas of Iran. In line with development programs, dam construction and water saving strategies in Iran have attracted the attention of many development practitioners. However, the impact of these projects on rural livelihood is not understood. Recently, the Gavshon Dam Project has been implemented by both the Agricultural Jihad Organization and the Regional Water Company. The purpose of this project was to provide irrigation water to water users (irrigated farmers) and to enhance the livelihood of farmer households. However, during the past 5 years since the beginning of the project, impact evaluation had not been conducted by the stakeholders. Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative research was to assess the impact of land improvement project on rural food security in Miandarband region.
Qualitative research paradigm was selected because of impact evaluation. In other words, impact evaluations are best determined with qualitative research methods so that direct and indirect impacts are determined. The research method was based on multi-case study through a pre-port design. Data was collected using participatory rural appraisal methodology such as social and resource mapping as well as seasonal calendar. Triangulation techniques have been used to validate and test for trustworthiness of the findings. For example, in-depth interviews and focus group discussion has been also used to collect further data. The unit of analysis comprised of five villages including Jelogiresofla, Safiabad, Sarabshela, Khoshneshinanesofla, and Kolakaboodevosta. These villages have been selected because they have experienced before and after land improvement projects. From each village eight farmers were selected through a purposeful sampling. A total of 40 farmers lived in the region before and after the project have participated in the study. Data have also been analyzed using relational content analysis. In order to get a clear picture of causal condition, mind mapping has been used for further analysis of the qualitative data.
Results and Discussion
The results of this study revealed that the project has impacted food security of farm households. Moreover, rural households were able to have access to diverse food material and gained more purchasing power. The results of this study have implications for agricultural policymakers and the regional water company in the province. First, agricultural policymakers can use the result of this study as a risk assessment tool in the future land improvement projects. For example, future land consolidation projects in the province may be implemented with minimum risk since the result of this study shows positive impact in food security of farm households. Second, regional water company have gained experience in launching water management schemes with Agricultural Jihad Organization. Future studies should concentrate on more participatory land improvement projects in Kermanshah province. This would enhance livelihood strategies of farmers and empower farmer households. Moreover, participatory water management schemes allows for collective actions among the stakeholders. The results of the research have also indicated that the Land Consolidation and Land Rehabilitation plans have left impacts on food security of farmers in these regions. In physical access to food, results have revealed that after Land Consolidation and Land Rehabilitation plans, access to financial resources and access to a variety of food is increased. An attempt by access to market, the Land Consolidation and Land Rehabilitation plans have not been changed in these regions.
In this subject Land Consolidation and Land Rehabilitation plans changed food consumption pattern from dairy and beef cattle to consumption of vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggplant, etc. because of increasing irrigated farms. In other words, there was a significant improvement in food security as an attempt for physical and economic access in this region by Land Consolidation and Land Rehabilitation plans. Anderson (2006) maintained that land modernization project in Australia have caused improvement in the food security of farmers. Other researchers have achieved similar conclusions. For example, the studies of Sedara and co-worker (2002) in Cambodia and Aksykn et al (2008) in China revealed that, proper use of water and soil resources makes adequate access to food and food security. On the other hand, these results were also confirmed by other studies including Rivera and Qamar (2003), Sallaku (2010), Kruger and Medlin (2007), and Anderson (2006). Similar results of these studies can demonstrate that Land Consolidation and Land Rehabilitation plans will increase the agricultural productivity and economic state of farmers. Because of this situation food security will be increased. In terms of research methodology, this study contributes to current literature on qualitative research paradigm. Participatory rural appraisal proves to be effective in that farmers are greatly considered and the researcher played the role of facilitator. This in turn empowered the poor and marginalized population in the region. This study had its limitations in that some farmers were reluctant to participate in the study. Further research is needed to discover different methods of motivating passive farmers to participate more effectively.