Agriculture and Food Systems - Theses

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    Impacts of national park on local communities : a case study of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, Bhutan
    Wangdi, Tashi ( 2006)
    Bhutan has a rich and varied biodiversity that has both regional and global significance. It has been declared one of the world's ten most important global biodiversity `hotspots'. In order to protect and preserve this mega-diversity, Bhutan has devoted 26 per cent of its total land area to designated Protected Areas (PAs). Another nine per cent is set aside for biological corridors connecting all PAs in the country. Empirical evidence worldwide indicates that the establishment of PAs such as National Parks can impact on populations through restrictions on traditional resource use and crop and livestock losses to wild animals. No studies have yet been conducted in Bhutan but anecdotal evidence suggests that similar stories of constraint and restriction are emerging in the country. The aim of this research is to explore how the establishment of PAs in Bhutan is impacting on local residents. Using a qualitative case study approach, this study explores the perceptions of villagers, local elected leaders and government officials residing in two districts of Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park (JSWNP). The results suggest that declaring a National Park has been perceived by rural communities as yielding a number of negative consequences. These include the restriction of access to traditionally-used resources and increased depredation of crops and livestock by Park animals. However, many respondents expressed their support for the protection of remaining natural resources for the benefit of future generations. Residents also recognise and appreciate the support provided by the Park management in the form of supplies such as seeds, seedlings, breeding bulls, machinery and budget for school and clinic improvement. Respondents expressed their desire for continued or even increased support in future. Residents' perceptions of the Park and its impacts appear to be particularly influenced by their level of dependence on natural resources, family wealth and proximity to markets and Park offices. The study also shows that the whole process of Park conceptualisation, establishment and management is seen as having been imposed. Residents do not understand how the Park was conceptualised and established. Their participation in Park related planning and decision-making processes is limited to small elites. Furthermore, the authorities of JSWNP are seen to be placing too much emphasis on the enforcement of Park rules, to deter people from extracting natural resources. This has led to resentment among the local residents. Enforcement of rules is also said to be inconsistent across the villages studied. While there is some concern amongst residents about the imposition of restriction, there exists a strong local conservation ethic and traditional resource management institutions in rural communities within the Park. However, these are largely unacknowledged by conventional conservation strategies, which are based on western scientific knowledge. The conventional conservation strategies need rethinking. They provide limited opportunity for long-term success of the Park as they disengage local residents from the conservation processes. Successful Park management will require a shift from an imposed conservation ethic - which retains external control of the management and end-uses of Park resources - to an approach which devolves more responsibility and decision-making authority to local communities. This would mean increasing engagement with local people, a shift from `policing' to monitoring and research, an acknowledgement of the local conservation ethic and the provision of alternative economic opportunities. Finally, more research is needed to increase our understanding of residents' perceptions and attitudes about National Parks, the ecological footprints of residents on Park resources and the role of local conservation ethic and institutions. Such understanding will enable future policy and decision makers to develop informed decisions and policies that are more likely to engage local people in the conservation process.
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    The economic evaluation of forage research results
    Gaffy, Joseph ( 2004)
    Three economic analyses were conducted on the results of dairy forage production experiments undertaken in Victoria. The first analysis investigated the level of pasture production increases that would have to be achieved to warrant the investment in different soil modification options. This analysis took pasture production data and using a computer program "UDDER" (Larcombe 1990) generated farm data which was then applied to development budgets. The increase in pasture growth rate required was such that it is unlikely that investment in the soil modification systems tested here will produce a satisfactory return on investment. The second analysis investigated the use of different pasture species combinations on a dairy farm in northern Victoria. A linear programming model was developed that balanced the energy requirements of the milking herd with the energy supplied from pasture and supplements. The results showed that the most profitable mix of pasture depended on the energy supply profile of the pasture and the requirements of the herd. The proportion of autumn and spring calving cows in the herd in part determined the most profitable pasture mix. The effect of grazing management on profit was the subject of the third study. A farm model was constructed that balanced the energy, protein and neutral detergent fibre requirements of the milking herd with that supplied by pasture and supplements and optimised operating profit. The results of a grazing trial conducted in south-west Victoria were entered into the model and the operating profits for each treatment compared. The results suggested that while Operating profit was related to total pasture consumption, the timing of the pasture consumption impacted on operating profit. The results also suggested that grazing frequency may have affected operating profit more than grazing intensity.
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    Price risk management in the Australian cotton industry
    Ada, Timothy James ( 2004)
    Over 95 per cent of Australian cotton producers have attempted to manage price risk at some time, through a broad range of management strategies. The findings of this study suggest that the cotton industry has to date, embraced the principals of price risk management more so than other agricultural commodity industries in Australia. Nearly 60 per cent of Australian cotton producers stated that price risk management had a positive effect on their farm business. Findings from the study suggest that price risk management is only one of a suite of business management tools, but when implemented strategically, it can lead to positive outcomes in terms of business planning and ultimately through increased profitability. A lack of understanding of price risk management and, more specifically, recent currency exchange losses and high production risks were the key contributing factors for the 21 per cent of producers who stated that price risk management had a negative impact on their business. Approximately 10 per cent of cotton producers operated dryland production systems. These producers often incurred a broader range of production risks, and the resulting production uncertainty inhibited effective use of some price risk management strategies. One in four cotton producers had an agriculture-related tertiary qualification, yet few (around five per cent) had undertaken any form of specialist price risk management training. While some cotton producers are competent managers of price risk, the primary conclusion from the study is that much of the current uptake and effectiveness of price risk management in the Australian cotton industry generally, is somewhat limited by a lack of producer experience, confidence and understanding of price risk management principles and processes.
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    Size and reorganisation of dairy farm businesses
    Sinnett, Alexandria Marie ( 2004)
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    Economic evaluation of vegetable crop production in the Goulburn Valley region : using profit maximisation and optimal crop combination approaches
    Top, Baki Murat ( 2002)
    The vegetable industry in the Goulburn Valley Region has strengths, including the availability of technology and expertise, growing markets, a clean production environment, water availability and the relatively low cost of energy resources. Availability of the use of developed methods, techniques and equipment from transplanting machinery to post-harvest handling and storage facilities are also strengths of the vegetable industry in the Region. These advantages could enable the growers to readily incorporate other vegetable crops into their cropping practices. This type of diversification may well be beneficial both from economic and agronomic standpoints. The overall aim in this thesis is to make recommendations on optimal crop combinations, which can maintain farm profitability of vegetable growers in the Region. Incorporated within this overall objective, three major methods were undertaken in this study to find out options to better farm management. First, the economic aspects of some major vegetable crops are analysed and their economics and productivity are compared. The gross margin analysis of five selected vegetable crops are used to compare the different management practices, timing of operations and different returns. The gross margins per hectare of each crop were also estimated to provide decision-makers with a tool for comparative analysis of activities in a similar environment on their farm. The advantages and disadvantages of single cropping with multi cropping practices, by identifying practical possibilities that could enable growers to better utilise their farm and equipment by crop diversification, was also compared in this part. Second, to investigate economic rationality of growers production practices, using a Cobb-Douglas production function. The production function provides ideas about relationships between production inputs and output. Decision-makers can use the production function analysis to investigate returns to scale, which can show how the scale of production (output) will change when the decision-makers change the factors (inputs) of production. The gross margin technique assumes a linear relationship as an activity is expanded, ie. If the area of crop is doubled, it is assumed that the gross margin for the extra hectares will be the same as for the original area. This is not always so, as there can be a diminishing returns effect as the activity is expanded. While in many cases it is reasonable to assume a linear relationship when planning to increase the area, the grower and his decision-maker should keep the possibility of diminishing returns in mind as the activity is expanded (Makeham and Malcolm, 1986). This information can be obtained from the production function analysis. Third, a linear programming model was developed in this thesis and it was used to solve a particular planning problem (profit maximisation) in a hypothetical situation. Growers must repeatedly make decisions about what crops to produce, by what method, in which season or time periods, and in what quantities in any multiple cropping system. They have to make these decisions subject to the existing farm physical and financial constraints to get the best or "optimal" solution to their problems. The linear programming model's results were also related to production and price functions. This was done to provide the decision-makers with a logical structure for understanding the farm profit related problems and finding how crop quantity and price can be affected. In order to assess the objectives the following two hypotheses were also tested. 1. As an alternative crops whether the production of capsicum, zucchini, broccoli and cabbage were satisfactory crops according to tomato in the Region, and 2. Whether there were any new practices, which could be used by growers to adjust to producing those vegetables. The results show that the vegetable industry has potential to achieve better utilisation of the farm resources and thus increase the farm profitability. Growers should be aware of the production factors that will enable them to increase their competitiveness, and must structure themselves to better utilise them. Therefore, some new practices such as diversification or double cropping practices, using the same growing materials in the same paddock continuously, should be considered. Diversified systems or multi cropping would reduce financial risk and provide protection against drought, pest infestation or other natural factors that can limit the farm production and profitability. However, diversification may increase risk for various reasons including capital costs of highly specialised equipment, associated economy of scale issues and possible lack of expertise required for increasingly specialised production systems. In addition, the possibility that related products such as summer or winter vegetables may be in ample or scarce supply at the same time, and subject to the same price cycle. The major outcome from this research is that there are possibilities and opportunities for the growers to sustain their farm profitability and productivity in the Region. This could be achieved by identifying potential objectives (minimise or maximise something) to find the optimal solution to their farm problems.
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    A farm management economic analysis of future dairy systems in the Goulburn Valley
    Nesseler, Richard K ( 2002)
    Case studies were used to analyse the organisation and management of two irrigated dairy farm businesses. In particular, the focus was to . identify the economic' aspects of current and future farming systems in the Goulburn Valley. The approach involved focusing on farmers, the farm business, and the specific details of the farm system that farmers were managing. A whole-farm perspective was relevant as it provided details of the farm system and farmer characteristics that substantially influence how they respond to market changes. The economic 'analyses revealed that theoretical concepts often match the practical management of irrigated. dairy businesses. Also, relatively simple farm management budgets, which capture the full effect on management of the whole farm system from development, have a useful role in providing farmers with effective information about the medium-term growth opportunities on irrigated dairy farms in the Goulburn Valley. From these results it can be concluded that 'it is not what you do, but how you do it' that primarily determines the level of success in achieving goals.
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