Prajateerpu was an event which gave an opportunity to the people most affected by the government’s “Vision 2020” for food and farming in Andhra Pradesh to shape a vision of their own. This report, by global consultants McKinsey, with funding from Britain’s Department for International Development, was widely condemned as a front for agro-industrial interests. As Devinder Sharma writes:
The Vision 2020 document talked of reducing the number of farmers in the state to 40% of the population, and did not have any significant programme to adequately rehabilitate the remaining 30% of the farming population. The objective was to promote the commercial interests of the agribusiness companies (read foreign financial institutes and international bankers) and the IT hardware units. All benefit would have accrued to these companies in the name of farmers. In fact, these two sectors, along with biotechnology, were being heavily subsidised in the name of efficiency and infrastructure whereas the poor farmers were being divested of the their only source of income – their meagre land holdings.
Raita Teerpu was held in Karnataka in December 2009 to assess the benefits of ongoing Agricultural Research in India. It had the same format – the citizen jury – and was also attended by small farmers, dalits and indigenous peoples, people making presentations and witnesses from different parts of Karnataka. Jasber has been asked to evaluate the event for his university and the International Institute for Environment and Development .
Raita Teerpu is a very interesting approach, and embedded in democratic values, but also what I like is that it values the knowledge domains of women farmers, as wise, relevant, situated (not romanticized) and a driver of low intensive agriculture, the future. I attended the jury and met the organisers, and jurors. It was a fascinating experience. The media interest was phenomenal and rather uncomfortable at times. But that is another story.
We look forward to reading his evaluation of this event.