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Title: Irrigation and rural change in the semi-arid Sertao of Northeast Brazil
Author: Bicalho, Ana Mariade Souza Mello
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1985
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This thesis is an in-depth case study in Rural Geography based on primary data collected in the semi-arid Sertao of Northeast Brazil. The research analyses the impact of the introduction of capitalized irrigation agriculture into an area of traditional dry farming. The resultant social and economic change is evaluated with respect to the resolution of long-standing regional problems of drought, unemployment, poverty and rural exodus. Two types of irrigation systems are compared according to the kind of development strategy involved with each. Private-sector irrigation is based on labour-intensive and intermediate technology and represents a model of development from below at the periphery. Capital-intensive farming methods are utilized in public-sector irrigation in function of the centre-down and urban-industrial biased policies pursued in national and regional economic planning. The study thus addresses a number of questions concerning urban versus rural bias, regional dependency and appropriate technology. Irrigation is found to overcome the environmental and socioeconomic problems of the Sertao in a satisfactory way while dry farming does not. Private-sector irrigation does this better than public-sector irrigation. This occurs because flexibility in the production schemes employed in the private sector allows a larger number of farmers to adopt irrigation, more full-time jobs to be created, higher income to be earned by both farmers and workers and greater upward social mobility to take place. The use of capital-intensive technology on government projects severely limits the areas where public-sector irrigation can be practised. Furthermore, large amounts of scarce capital are spent on an insignificant number of Sertanejo farmers whose cropping activities are only profitable when highly subsidized. In sura, private-sector irrigation better contributes to lessening the problems of the Sertao and to reducing regional and sectorial imbalance and dependency.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Geography