Contract farming and the remaking of agrarian landscapes: Insights from South India's chilli belt


Bill Pritchard (email:


This analysis of a backward integration traceability scheme for red chillies developed by a multinational food company in India emphasizes spatial integration and differentiation within contract farming. The scheme is premised on the procurement of identically credentialed produce from 10 different sites in two states and incorporates growers in highly flexible and place-contingent modes. Interviews with corporate informants and farmers reveal this flexibility to be the result of a two-way process of risk management between the company and growers. The company spread its geographical exposure by initiating production across a number of far-flung cultivation sites, and growers cultivate chillies for the company within the context of diverse agricultural systems, thereby mitigating dependence. The scheme has had positive impacts for participants, but has more complex implications for the evolution of agrarian landscapes in India. The selective enrolment of participants through ‘progressive farmer’ networks acts to reorganize rural spaces by generating new geographies of advantage and opportunity.