18 March 2002
UK GOVERNMENT FUNDS SCHEME TO THROW 20 MILLION INDIAN FARMERS OFF THEIR LAND
1. UK GOVERNMENT FUNDS SCHEME TO THROW 20 MILLION INDIAN FARMERS OFF
THEIR LAND - FARMERS COME TO UK PARLIAMENT TO MAKE THEIR CASE
2. BBC interview with P V Satheesh - March 18, 2002.
1. UK GOVERNMENT FUNDS SCHEME TO THROW 20 MILLION INDIAN FARMERS OFF THEIR LAND - FARMERS COME TO UK PARLIAMENT TO MAKE THEIR CASE
Press conference: Monday, March 18th, 2pm, Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament
The UK Government is poised to spend £65 million to underwrite a development scheme that will throw twenty million Indian farmers off their land over the next twenty years. The scheme - called Vision 2020 - focuses on agricultural "development" in Andhra Pradesh and involves the restructuring of farming to favour large industrial-scale agriculture, increased mechanisation and GM crops. Representatives of a local "citizens jury" from Andhra Pradesh will today visit the British Parliament to call for a halt to funding of the scheme and present MPs with further evidence of the draconian plan.
Vision 2020 is put together by the Andhra Pradesh State Government and the management consultancy McKinsey and Company. Both the World Bank and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) have earmarked funds to support the scheme which will transform all areas of social and economic life. The scheme would ensure that 30% of the current population (a minimum of 20 million people) would be displaced from their land.
The citizens jury, organised by two leading UK research institutes in
partnership with Indian development charities, includes some of India's
poorest farmers. After considering evidence from 12 specialist witnesses,
including representatives of the GM industry and pro GM
academics, the citizen’s jury unanimously opposed Vision 2020’s strategy of removing 20 million farmers from the land.
PV Satheesh, Director of the Deccan Development Society in Andhra Pradesh, said: "Vision 2020 is an aid package for big farmers and corporations. We've reached a fork in the road for farming around the world and the UK Government is about to send the people of Andhra Pradesh down the wrong track. Vision 2020 means huge farms, pesticides, mass mechanisation and GM crops but offers nothing but a loss of homes and livelihoods to most of the people who actually live and farm in this region."
A wide coalition of UK development and environment groups and charities have come together with the Indian farmers in their call for support for their sustainable agriculture and an end to UK funding of Vision 2020. They include Christian Aid, ITDG, The Small and Family Farm Alliance, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.
Full report: www.iied.org
For further information, please contact:
Deccan Development Society, PV Satheesh c/o Michael Hart +44 (0)7771 594237
Christian Aid Mark Curtis, +44 (0)207 523-2170
ITDG Andrew Scott +44 (0)192 663-4400
Friends of the Earth Tony Juniper +44 (0)207 490-0336
Greenpeace Charlie Kronick +44 (0)207 865-8228, mobile +44 (0)7801 212963
Institute of Development Studies Tom Wakeford - +44 (0)7966 170713 report co-author
International Institute for Environment and Development Michel Pimbert, phone +44 (0)207 3882117 report co-author
2. Interview of P V Satheesh by James Naughtie
BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Monday March 18, 2002.
JN: The first UN conference on financing development is starting in Mexico. The main debate there is going to be about aid - bluntly put - good or bad? But here’s an example of something interesting going on. In one region of the world a sustainable farming group is actually rejecting a British aid project that is worth about sixty-five million pounds. It is going to lobby today to press the point.
P V Satheesh is a farmer and Director of the Deccan Development Society in Andhra Pradesh, and he joins us now from Oxford. Why do you think it would be better for you not to get the money?
PVS: Normally, every aid [project] is supposed to be in the interests of the poor. But if an aid goes directly against the poor then it is better that the aid doesn‚t come at all.
JN: How would this work against the poor in Andhra Pradesh?
PVS: There’s an agricultural policy called Vision 2020 in Andhra Pradesh. And DFID is funding the Andhra Pradesh Government to the tune of one hundred million pounds this year. Vision 2020 envisages three things: number one is the consolidation of land-holdings, two is getting in corporate agriculture, third is orientating agriculture to export. Each one of them will make small and marginal farmers lose complete control over their land and processes. And they will be absolute destitutes at the end of it.
JN: Is it inevitable that the way that DFID gives the aid will mean that it is spent in that way, rather than in a way that you think will help poor farmers in the region?
PVS: Absolutely not. Aid agencies could be far more sensitive and listen to the voices of the poor, which is what this process of Citizens jury has done. It has given voices to some of the most neglected marginalised people and they have very clearly said "if you want to give the aid, please give it in our terms, please give it with our consent", and if that is heard by agencies like DFID then I think aid will work for the better of the poor rather than for the worse.
JN: Do you think that you will have any success in persuading people from DFID here, for example, that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way the aid is used after it leaves the Government’s bank account here?
PVS: Absolutely. That is one of the reasons why we are here. With the farmers directly talking to the British public and telling them that the kind of aid that is coming here, to a government that wants to displace something like thirty million farmers from their lands, which - if I have to translate - is almost half the population of Britain being asked to get out of their jobs - what impact would it have on their families, livelihoods and communities? That‚s what is happening in the State of Andhra Pradesh. And if the British public, who are the taxpayers, who are assisting DFID to invest [in projects] outside their country get up and say "what are you doing with our money?", then I think agencies like DFID have to sit up and listen, and do the correct things, rather than doing the wrong things that they are doing now.
JN: P V Satheesh thank you very much.
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