Development and Urbanization
What is a "good life"? In countless writings, Eastern and Western thinkers alike have dwelled on this fundamental philosophical question. Through implementing development policies, governments aim at making their citizens’ lives better, thereby implicitly defining what a good life is. In everyday practices, citizens enact their own modes of life, each person holding an individual perspective of what makes one’s life good. This research is about the interplay of philosophy, agricultural policy, and rural people’s practical understandings of the “good life” in the context of agricultural development.
About a decade ago, farmers in East Nepal started taking up cardamom production, an agricultural development strategy supported by the Nepalese government. Today, cardamom is the major income source in the region, and rural lives are rapidly changing, for instance regarding agricultural labor and respondents' financial situation. Is this development fostering “good lives”, according to the rural population?
Preliminary findings (data collection is still on-going) suggest that for the majority of respondents a “good life” is a life with few hardships, with peace of mind, and with happiness. Respondents argue that cardamom contributes to this kind of good life because its production requires less physical effort and yields more income than previous crops. However, respondents are worried about the spreading of plant diseases which jeopardise sustainability. Most strikingly, so far not a single respondent wanted their children to become farmers. Eventually, a “good life” is a comfortable life in town with a regular salary.