The sustainability of floriculture as a livelihood activity in West Bengal, India
Agricultural production of high-value crops is increasingly envisaged as a way to reduce rural poverty in developing countries (' e.g.' 2008 World Bank Development Report). As elsewhere in the global south, India's cut flower industry is blooming; however, there is very little critical analysis of its impacts on the poor. This study employs a sustainable livelihoods approach in a flower-growing centre of West Bengal. A case study methodology is employed drawing from a mix of methods, including: a household questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, participatory methods, and observation. Findings suggest that, against predictions drawn from the literature, small-scale farmers do participate in flower cultivation. Although producers in the study village do not currently have access to export markets, there is robust domestic demand for traditional varieties. Unfortunately, cultivators do not have equal access to formalized training and some are facing declining soil fertility. Lastly, floriculture fills gaps in the agricultural cycle for very poor casual labourers.