19 March 2002
POWERHOUSE OR POORHOUSE? GM CROPS IN INDIA
1. New Scientist on aid plan that "COULD THROW 20 MILLION OFF LAND"
2. Prajateerpu: A Citizens‚ Jury on Food Futures for Andhra Pradesh
1. Article from New Scientist Online
Further links available from: http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992057
PLAN "COULD THROW 20 MILLION OFF LAND" IN INDIA
Fred Pearce, New Scientist
17.20, 18 March 2002
Farmers from one of India's poorest states charged the UK government on Monday with helping fund a development scheme that will throw 20 million people off their land.
The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has so far been promised [million] 65 million in UK aid for a programme called Vision 2020. The state government says the programme will "totally eradicate poverty" inside 20 years by mechanising farms, introducing genetically modified crops and extending irrigation, roads and electricity to rural communities.
But the plan, which is being funded by the World Bank and the UK's Department for International Development, will be based round widespread "land consolidation". That is, turning millions of small farms into larger production units. The stated aim is to reduce the proportion of the state's 70 million people who make their living from the land from 70 to 40 per cent.
"There will be a huge hardship," says PV Satheesh of the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity, who led a protest at the UK Parliament. "They say that the people who leave the land will find jobs. But they can't show us where the jobs will be. Right now, the government has a moratorium on jobs and the private sector is downsizing."
Speaking from a conference in Mexico, the UK international development secretary Clare Short denied that the Andhra Pradesh state government had any plans to remove people from their land. But she said development was necessary in a state where "most of the poorest people work as agricultural labourers, often on a dollar a day or less".
Powerhouse or poorhouse?
In effect, the protest represents a clash of two alternative visions for tackling global poverty. The state government declares that under the plan "every individual will be able to lead a comfortable life. Poverty will have been eradicated and current inequalities will have disappeared."
To turn the state into a "powerhouse of Indian agriculture", it has asked Monsanto to introduce Bt cotton, which carries a gene for an insect-killing toxin. And another firm will develop "golden rice", which is engineered to be rich in vitamin A. But many farmers oppose the plans. And they are backed by independent aid groups such as Christian Aid and by researchers from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.
The institute's Tom Wakeford helped organise a series of "citizens juries" in which farmers debated Vision 2020. "They unanimously decided to oppose the project," he said. Instead they backed an alternative vision based on organic farming and community control.
"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," Satheesh told New Scientist. "We have reached a fork in the road for farming and the UK government is about to send the people of Andhra Pradesh down the wrong track."
2. Prajateerpu: A Citizens‚ Jury/Scenario Workshop on Food Futures for Andhra Pradesh, India
Background. The State of Andhra Pradesh (AP) in South India is currently re-thinking its approach to farming, land use and marketing. The AP Government’s vision of the future of the State‚s food system is presented in strategy papers and its so-called Vision 2020. Whilst fundamental and profound transformations of the food system are proposed in Vision 2020, there has been little or no involvement of small farmers and rural people in shaping this policy scenario.
Discussions with local and state level partners have revealed considerable concerns over the possible impacts of Vision 2020 on livelihoods security, agricultural biodiversity and the very fabric of local food systems and economies. AP officials and international donors also point to areas in Vision 2020 that need further public consultation and refinement.
The UK based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) were asked to facilitate a participatory process to encourage more public debate in policy choices on food futures for the State of Andhra Pradesh.
Prajateerpu,- the ‘citizens’ jury’ on food and farming futures in Andhra Pradesh (A. P.)-, was an exercise in deliberative democracy involving marginal-livelihood citizens from all three regions of the state of Andhra Pradesh. It took place at the Government of India’s Farmer Liaison Centre (KVK), Algole Village, Zaheerabad Taluk, Medak District, Andhra Pradesh, June 25-July 1, 2001.
The national partners involved in this international collaboration on deliberative democracy and the future of food systems, livelihoods and the environment include the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity, The University of Hyderabad, AP and the all-India National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP).
Deliberative and inclusionary processes (DIPs) are used in the North and the South to give the historically excluded a stake in decisions. Over the past quarter century a number of ‘participatory’ methods have been developed in an attempt to supplement conventional democratic processes, moving beyond traditional forms of consultation. Some of these methods and processes include citizens’ juries, neighbourhood forums, consensus conferences, scenario workshops, multi-criteria mapping, participatory rural appraisal, visioning exercises and deliberative polling.
Recent examples that have allowed local voices to influence policy processes include:
Scenario workshops and on urban planning in Denmark
A Citizen jury on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Karnataka
Consensus conferences and deliberative polling on location of toxic wastes in Switzerland
These experiences from the North and South have been used to design and organise a Citizen Jury on Food Futures for Andhra Pradesh.
The citizen jury.
The central component of this exercise in deliberative democracy was a citizen jury made up of representatives of small and marginal farmers from AP, small traders and food processors and consumers. To reflect the reality of rural Andhra Pradesh, most of the jury members were small and marginal farmers and also included indigenous (known in India as adivasi) people. Over two thirds of the jury members were women.
Visions of the future. Jury members were presented with three different scenarios. Each was advocated by key opinion-formers who attempted to show the logic behind the scenario. It was up to the jury to decide which of the three scenarios is most likely to provide them with the best opportunities to enhance their livelihoods, food security and environment twenty years from now.
Vision 1: Vision 2020. This scenario has been put forward by Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister and has been backed by a loan from the World Bank. It proposes to consolidate small farms and rapidly increase mechanisation and modernisation. Production enhancing technologies such as genetic modification will be introduced in farming and food processing, reducing the number of people on the land from 70% to 40% by 2020. DFID (UK) has begun to provide funding and advice towards this programme.
Vision 2: An export-based cash crop model of organic production. This vision of the future is based on proposals within IFOAM and the International Trade Centre (UNCTAD/WTO) for environmentally friendly farming linked to national and international markets. This vision is also increasingly driven by the demand of supermarkets in the North to have a cheap supply of organic produce and comply with new eco-labelling standards.
Vision 3: Localised food systems. A future scenario based on increased self-reliance for rural communities, low external input agriculture, the re-localisation of food production, markets and local economies, -with long distance trade in goods that are surplus to production or not produced locally. Support for this vision in India can be drawn from the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, indigenous peoples organisations and some farmers unions in India and elsewhere.
Each vision was presented through videos. Video footage was assembled to illustrate the salient features of life under each particular vision. Each vision narrative was followed by a succinct summary of the policies and institutions that steered Andhra Pradesh towards that particular food future (or vision).
Expert witnesses. Following the video presentations, expert witnesses presented the case for a particular vision of the future. Members of the AP Government (such as a senior member of the Department of Agriculture), the corporate sector (including Dr Partha Dasgupta of Syngenta) and civil society organisations (such as Dr Sagari Ram Das of Anthra and Dr Debashis Banerji of Samaj Pragati Sahayog) were given equal amounts of time to present their case to the jury. Jury members were allowed to cross question expert witnesses after their presentation.
Jury selection. The jury was selected from a range of different livelihood systems across the three regions of Andhra Pradesh. The selection process was overseen by a team of participatory researchers at the University of Hyderabad, led by Dr Vinod Pavarala, Reader in Communication.
Jury deliberations. Jury members considered all three visions, assessing pros and cons on the basis of their own knowledge, priorities and aspirations. The different contributions of invited expert witnesses was also important for the jury’s deliberations. The jury members were not asked to simply choose between vision 1, 2 or 3. Instead, outsider facilitation encouraged them to critically assess the viability and relevance of each scenario for the future. They could choose a particular pre-formed vision OR combine elements of all three futures and derive their own unique vision(s).
The scenarios were images of different possibilities for the future.
They were meant to inspire criticism which can assist in the generation
of new visions and action proposals, -including policy recommendations.
An oversight panel. The jury/scenario workshop process was overseen by an oversight panel,- a group of external observers. They checked the videos produced and observed the whole process. Its was their role is to ensure that each Food Future is presented in a fair and unprejudiced way, and that the process is trustworthy and is not captured by any interest group.
The Panel consisted of:
Justice Savant, Chair, Press Commission of India and former Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of India.
Dr Paul ter Weel, High Commissioner for Rural Development, Netherlands Embassy
Ms Savitri, member of Giridijan Deepika, an Adivasi-run NGO for tribal peoples empowerment working in the Eastern Ghats region of Andhra Pradesh.
Mr Y.N. Naidu, Andhra Pradesh coordinator of AME (Man and Ecology), India
Dr Sandeep Chachra, Regional Manager, Hyderabad, ActionAid India.
Representatives of the World Bank and the UK’s Department for International Development were also invited to act as independent observers.
Funding for Prajateeru came from the Dutch Government overseas development agency (DGIS) (via IIED’s Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods Programme), the Rockefeller Foundation (via IDS’s Environment Group), and the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity.
Suda Goparaju, Programme Support Team, Rural Livelihoods Project,
Government of Andhra Pradesh
Kavitha Kuruganti, Programmes Division, ActionAid India
Vinod Pavarala, Reader, Communication Programme, University of Hyderabad
Media professionals were invited for two purposes:
To film the entire citizen jury/scenario workshop process. The resulting comprehensive visual archives (video) are available to any party or external agencies wishing to learn from this experience or check for shortcomings in the deliberative process.
To relay information on the event and its outcomes to a wider audience,
both nationally and internationally.
The key conclusions reached by the jury - their ‘vision’ - included a desire for:
Food and farming for self-reliance and community control over resources.
To maintain healthy soils, diverse crops, trees and livestock, and to build on our indigenous knowledge, practical skills and local institutions.
And opposition to:
The proposed reduction of those making their livelihood from the land from 70%-40% in Andhra Pradesh
Land consolidation and displacement of rural people
GM Crops - including Vitamin A rice & Bt cotton
Loss of control over medicinal plants including their export
The jury process and verdict will hopefully encourage more public deliberation and pluralism in the framing and implementation of policies on food and agriculture in Andhra Pradesh, thus contributing to democratic governance. Because of AP’s status as one of India’s model states, the outcomes of this deliberative and inclusive process should be of national and international significance.
The jury’s vision and priorities for food and farming will inform the directions of IIED’s 4 year action research on Sustaining Local Food Systems, Agricultural Biodiversity and Livelihoods in Andhra Pradesh.
Last, Prajateerpu provides a fascinating case study in which an attempt was made for the inclusion of the genuinely poor and marginalised into the policy process. The necessary analysis for conclusions to be reached is now underway.
Pimbert, M.P and Wakeford, T., 2001. Deliberative democracy and citizen empowerment. Special issue of PLA Notes 40, IIED. Co-published by The Commonwealth Foundation, ActionAid and IIED.
IIED's "Sustaining local food systems, agricultural biodiversity and livelihoods" project.
IDS Environment Group‚s ŒDemocratising Biotechnology‚ project. See http://www.ids.ac.uk/IDS/env/envnew.html
Michel Pimbert (IIED) and Tom Wakeford (IDS)
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