Agrarian inequalities, institutional innovation and gender: Can group farming provide an answer?

11th March, 6.00-7.30pm, Fawcett House (FAW), Room 9.04

Co-hosted with KCL India Institute with a reception at 5.30pm

Speaker: Professor Bina Agarwal (Development Economics and Environment, University of Manchester)
Chair: Professor Mike Savage (International Inequalities Institute, LSE) 

Despite global concern with agrarian inequalities and sustainable livelihoods, rather little attention has been paid to the institutional transformation of agriculture. The debate on farm types has focused mainly on small family farms vs. large commercial farms. Equally, few programmes for economically empowering rural women focus seriously on farming—the one occupation in which they have most experience. In this context, experiments in two Indian states—Kerala and Telangana—stand out, for their innovative institutional form, namely group farming by women. Can these provide an alternative model of farming?

Based on her primary surveys, Prof. Bina Agarwal examines whether group farms—which pool land, labour and capital and cultivate jointly—can outperform (mostly male-managed) individual family farms in the same regions, in terms of productivity and profits. Can they also empower the women socially and politically? Moreover, given their different approaches, which state is more effective and why?


Bina Agarwal is Professor of Development Economics and Environment, University of Manchester. Prior to this, she was Professor of Economics and Director, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. Educated at the Universities of Cambridge and Delhi, she has been President of the International Society for Ecological Economics; Vice-President, International Economic Association; and  President, International Association for Feminist Economics. Currently she is a member of IPES-Food, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy, The World Academy of Science, and a life fellow of the International Economic Association. She has  served on many international advisory bodies, and held distinguished visiting positions at several universities including Harvard, Princeton, Cambridge, Michigan, Minnesota, and the New York University School of Law.
Agarwal’s publications include over 88 academic articles and 12 books, including the award-winning, A Field of One’s Own: Gender and Land Rights in South Asia (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge). Her more recent books, both published by Oxford University Press, are: Gender and Green Governance (2010) and Gender Challenges (2016), a three volume compendium of her selected papers, covering the fields of Agriculture, Property, and the Environment respectively.
In 2008 she was awarded the Padma Shri by the President of India. Her other awards include: the Edgar Graham Book Prize 1995-1996; the A.K. Coomaraswamy Book Prize 1996; the K.H. Bhateja Book Prize 1996; the Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for distinguished contributions to development studies 2002; the Ramesh Chandra award for agricultural economics 2005; The Leontief Prize 2010 for advancing the frontiers of economic thought; Officer of the Order of Agricultural Merit 2017, Government of France; the Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize 2017, France; and the International Balzan Prize 2017. She also holds honorary doctorates from ISS, The Hague, and the University of Antwerp. See also: