Understanding rural outmigration and agricultural land use change in the Gandaki Basin, Nepal

Maharjan, A, Kochhar, I, Chitale, V.S, Hussain, A and Gioli, G (2020) 'Understanding rural outmigration and agricultural land use change in the Gandaki Basin, Nepal.' Applied Geography, 124. e102278. ISSN 0143-6228

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2020.102278


This study investigates agricultural land use change in Chitwan, Nuwakot and Lamjung districts of Nepal during 1990 –2017 in relation to rural outmigration. Agriculture in Nepal is characterized by subsistence farming, low productivity, limited access to markets, constraints of terrain, poor economic returns, and vulnerability to natural hazards now exacerbated by climate change. These challenging circumstances are further compounded by several physical, environmental and socioeconomic challenges, including from labour outmigration. Outmigration has steadily increased over the past two decades, and a remittance economy has fuelled urbanization processes as well as transformations in the rural economy. Data was collected from three selected districts, representing two different agro-ecological zones - the mountains and plains (Terai). We use an interdisciplinary approach integrating macro scale and longitudinal geospatial analysis with quantitative econometric causal analysis and participatory qualitative methods. Results show that agricultural land abandonment is higher in mountain areas than in the Terai. The effect of outmigration on agricultural land abandonment also has an important gender dimension: internal outmigration of women has a significant positive effect on agricultural land abandonment. This shows that when men outmigrate, women continue farming leading to feminization of agriculture, but when women migrate in significant numbers, there are only older parents left who are often unable to continue farming. Similarly, and contrary to the general narrative and previous studies, international migration (of both men and women) did not show any significant impact on agricultural land abandonment.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: migration, Nepal, interdisciplinary research, land use land cover change, gender, agriculture
Divisions: School of Sciences
Research Centres and Groups: Global Citizenship and Identities
Hazard, Risk and Disaster Research Group
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2020.102278
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2020 10:54
Last Modified: 17 May 2022 16:49
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/13467
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