Towards Lower-Carbon Indian Agricultural Development: an Experiment in Multi-criteria Mapping

Barbara Harriss-White, Alfred Gathorne-Hardy, Gilbert Rodrigo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Agricultural development research and policy has to address climate change. Against the mainstream focus on adaptation, this article reports on public policy implications for climate change mitigation of a project measuring environmental, social and economic aspects of India’s rice economy: greenhouse gases (GHGs), energy and water; the quantity and quality of work and a systematic analysis of market and social costs and returns. A detailed life cycle assessment of GHG production generates four different kinds of technological possibilities helping the transition towards lower-carbon agriculture: rain-fed rice production (RR), System of Rice Intensification (SRI), solar pumps (SPs) and halving transmission and distribution (T&D) losses in the electricity grid. Through quantitative ranking and qualitative discursive analysis, a new method, multi-criteria mapping (MCM), is trialled in which the benefits of alternatives are evaluated by incommensurable criteria. These are costs, employment and GHGs. This experimental application crosses two languages (English and Tamil), compares participants with expert knowledge (EKs) with agrarian participants with situated knowledge (SKs), and explores the influence of identity (urban-rural, gender, and education).
Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of Development and Change
Early online date30 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Low carbon transition
  • agricultural development
  • multi-criteria mapping
  • India

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