Vs Globalised Capital
Prajateerpu or citizens' jury
Andhra Pradesh farmers put World Bank
/ DFID plans for their agriculture on trial.
The following reports are from Tom Wakeford in Andhra Pradesh, a state
with some of the worst poverty in India.
Tom, who's with the Institute for Development Studies at the University
of Sussex, has travelled up from Hyderabad to Medak to help with
the final preparations for a "Prajateerpu" or "citizens'jury", starting
26 June 2001, which will be asking farmers from all over the state
living below the poverty line what sort of future they want: GM or not
GM, organic or chemicals, fair-trade for export or local self-sufficiency.
THERE WILL BE DAILY DESPATCHES FROM THE JURY --
phone connections permitting!
This is a great opportunity to move away from headlines and sound-bites
and explore the range of perspectives on what is the best way forward
for ‘feeding the world’. It is also a rare chance for the excluded
population of Andhra Pradesh to have a voice in the major decisions to
be taken affecting their future.
Here's Tom's first report on Andra's "Prajateerpu".
Indian Farmers Vs Globalised Capital
Andhra Pradesh farmers put World Bank / DFID plans for
their agriculture on trial.
Citizens Jury to Start Tomorrow
Narsamma lives in a remote mountainous area in the
north east of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Though she has never been beyond her local town ever
before and cannot read, her literacy is written in her
small fields and in the diverse harvest she and her
family collect from the forest.
Now Narsamma is travelling to the other end of the
state to take part in Prajateerpu - a citizens' jury
on the future of agriculture in her state. It takes
place in the district of Medak, a six hour train ride
from the State's capital of Hyderabad. Andhra has some
of the worst poverty in India, and Medak is one of its
poorest districts, not in human resources or skills,
but in its standards of living.
The whole state of Andhra Predesh is being courted as
a major recipient of grants and loans from the World
Bank and the UK's Department for International
Development (DFID). Of the £110 million spent by DFID
in India each year, 60% goes to just this one state.
This is set to increase by two-fold over the next 3
Having hired a group of management consultants from
the US, the Government of Andhra Pradesh has developed
a twenty-year strategy for the development of the
state over the last two years. This 'Vision 20:20'
forsees the wholesale mechanisation of agriculture in
the state. Whereas 70% of the people currently draw
their livelihoods from the land, the Vision forsees
this dropping to only 40%. The specific policies
outlined in the document include:
*Contract farming by corporations rather than farmers
growing their food on their own land
*The consolidation of small farms into larger
*Adoption of genetically engineered crops
*Mechanisation of harvesting, weeding and
*Incentives introduced for export-orientated cash
The Vision 20:20 has produced a heated debate within
Andhra, and across India. In a country where the
majority of the population still derive their
livelihood from farming, Andhra is the first to
arrange the financing of what would be a radical shift
from labour-insentive largely subsistence system of
agriculture to an indutrialised intensive cash crop
In March 2000 a citizens' jury in which small and
marginal farmers conducted a debate on the
desirability of GM crops occurred in the neighbouring
state of Karnataka. Lakshmamma, a member of this
farmers jury, spoke about the situation at a meeting
in Norwich in the UK during April 2001. She told the
audience of what a drastic change was being planned by
her state government, funded by the World Bank and the
UK Government, without small and marginal farmers like
her being consulted. She encouraged British NGOs and
participatory development workers to come and help the
excluded population of Andhra have a voice in the
decisions being taken.
The resulting "Prajateerpu" or "citizens' jury" is the
first time in India that ordinary people will take the
place of a judge in a "court" which will examine three
different visions for the future of agriculture.
The people's verdict, which will be reached on July
1st and presented to state and national governments,
along with the World Bank, will have implications for
policy-makers at a national and international level.
The citizens' jury will consist of twenty people
largely drawn from among A.P.'s small and marginal
farmers, but will also include small-scale food
processors, small traders and urban consumers. They
will consider 3 scenarios which will be described in 3
specially produced films:
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 will be introduced in farming and food
processing, reducing the number of people on the land
from 70% to 40% by 2020. DFID (UK) and the World Bank
have expressed an intention to provide a large grant
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
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 people's
organisations and some farmers unions.
The jury members will receive evidence to aid their
deliberations by key figures in A.P., India, and the
international community including government
officials, scientists, corporate and civil society
The process will be observed by an Oversight Panel of
senior figures from India, chaired by Justice P.B.
Savant, Chair of the Press Council of India, and
former member of the Supreme Court of India.
Funding has been provided by the Dutch government's
aid agency, DGIS and the Rockefeller Foundation.
You are warmly invited to attend Prajateerpu, which
will take place at the KVK Centre, Algole Village,
Zaheerabad Taluk, Medak District. It begins at 10am
on Tuesday June 26th. However, in case you can't make
it, I will try and provide updates via NGIN's Email
list, phone lines permitting.
Tom Wakeford is a writer and biologist at the
Institute for Development Studies, University of
Sussex. His latest book, Liaisons of Life, is
published by John Wiley.
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