A FARMERS’ JURY ON “FUTURE OF AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT & IMPROVEMENT OF LIVELIHOODS, IN THE CONTEXT OF ‘BRINGING GREEN REVOLUTION TO EASTERN INDIA’”
In 2010, Government of India initiated a new effort in six eastern states of India called “Bringing/Extending Green Revolution to Eastern India (BGREI)” with a 400-crore outlay within the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. As outlays go, this may not be much; however, as perspectives and intent go, this new initiative reflects the dominant thinking within the Union Government, if not of state governments in the seven states concerned, with regard to the future of agriculture in these states and in the country.
The BGREI has been raising several concerns including the fact that it is not clear how the programme or the perspective behind it has been formulated – it is obvious that the farming communities in the region have not been consulted about the way their future is being shaped and moulded through this new programme and other initiatives. It is not
clear whether adequate scientific and other debates have been organized about this path of agricultural development being charted out, including with regard to lessons learnt from the first Green Revolution, the specific strengths and weaknesses of the farming communities and their farming in this region, the emerging challenges of climate change and rapid
erosion of productive resources and so on.
It is in this context that a Farmers’ Jury is being proposed to be organized on March 15th to 17th, 2012 in Bhubaneswar, on “Future of Agricultural Development & Improvement of Livelihoods in Eastern India, in the context of BGREI”.
A Farmers’ Jury like other Citizens’ Juries, is a process by which farmers get to shape policy discourse and formulation as important stakeholders. The Jury members, selected with a rationale to represent their communities (either as representatives of farmers’ associations or representative of the ‘universe’ of farmers in the region) would listen
to views/perspectives/scenarios and visions presented by various schools of thinking (the representatives of the state governments, of the Union Government, of agriculture scientists, of the agri-business entities, of civil society activists, of NGOs working on constructive alternatives etc.) like in a regular Court Room in the case of a trial, and then pass their own verdict on the future of agricultural development and livelihood
While this is a very useful tool for running deliberative democratic processes, for the Jurors and the communities that they represent, this would also be an empowering process, bringing their voices to the fore to be heard by the world, especially people shaping policies and programmes.
The Jury in this case would comprise of 10-15 farmers drawn from six states, including women farmers, tribal farmers, smallholders etc.
This Farmers’ Jury will be organized by Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), an informal national network of more than 400 organisations that had come together to organize the Kisan Swaraj Yatra in 2010, to highlight issues related to the current agrarian crisis in India and to promote sustainable solutions to problems plaguing our agriculture and farm livelihoods. ASHA’s members in six states where the BGREI is
unfolding currently would be actively involved in the organizing of this Farmers’ Jury.