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Outmigration and Land-Use Change: A Case Study from the Middle Hills of Nepal

Bhawana Kc () and Digby Race ()
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Bhawana Kc: Tropical Forests and People Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Queensland 4556, Australia
Digby Race: Tropical Forests and People Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Queensland 4556, Australia

Land, 2019, vol. 9, issue 1, 1-19

Abstract: Outmigration has become a key livelihood strategy for an increasing number of rural households, which in turn has a profound effect on land management. Studies to date have mainly focused on migrant households, and there is limited literature on the differences in land management practices of migrant and nonmigrant households. This article drew on a current study to explore how outmigration affects land management practices in the context of rapidly changing rural communities and economics in the middle hills of Nepal. The data were collected in Lamjung District in western Nepal using a mixed-method approach. We found that underutilization of farmland is a more prominent phenomenon than land abandonment, with rural communities moving to less intensive farming. Importantly, the increasing underutilization of farmland is not just occurring among migrant households. There are a range of complex factors which influence land-use decisions and the subsequent outcomes for landscapes. A high risk of food insecurity in Nepal is likely to be exacerbated if the current trajectory of underutilization and abandonment of farmland continues. A suite of policy tools that can be selectively applied depending on the local context may be more effective than broad-brush national policies in tackling the underlying causes faced by rural communities.

Keywords: agrarian change; food security; land abandonment; land management; land use; livelihoods; Nepal; migration; underutilization (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q15 Q2 Q24 Q28 Q5 R14 R52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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Handle: RePEc:gam:jlands:v:9:y:2019:i:1:p:2-:d:299396