Trade Liberalization, Rural Poverty and the Environment
Edited by Jonathan A. Cook, Owen Cylke, Donald F. Larson, John D. Nash and Pamela Stedman-Edwards
Chapter 4: Shrimp Exports, Environment and Human Well-being in the Sunderbans, West Bengal
4. Shrimp exports, environment and human well-being in the Sundarbans, West Bengal Kanchan Chopra, with Pushpam Kumar and Preeti Kapuria In the early 1990s, India embarked on a program of economic liberalization that has given a much greater role to the market and has fostered an increase in exports. Given India’s vast size and diversity, this policy change has had varied impacts across the country. In the Sundarbans, the delta region of West Bengal known for both its remarkable biodiversity and high levels of poverty, liberalization sparked expansion of the shrimp export industry. The last 15 years have witnessed the rapid growth of aquaculture farms and the development of a large processing and export industry in the region, which have generated employment and improved incomes for many. The use of land and water in the region, however, has been greatly affected by this development, with consequences for biodiversity, mangrove forests and long-term sustainability. This study looks at the effect of increased shrimp production on the people and the natural environment of the Sundarbans in order to better understand the links among trade, poverty and the environment. Two specific questions are addressed: ● ● What has been the impact of trade liberalization and consequent production of shrimp for export on the ecosystems of the Sundarbans in the last 15 years? What has been the impact of the shrimp industry on the well-being of different groups in the region? To answer these questions, the authors made use of econometric analysis, remote sensing data, biodiversity...
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