|connecting micro to macro
- P V Satheesh
It is a period of excitement all around. For the first ten years of its existence, DDS had been basically introvert and inward looking. But as our experiences built up and we found more than one thread stranding us with the needs and experiences of the outside world, we had to started joining force with many other organisations, regional, national and global. The last two years have seen this networking at its intense best. There have been multiple networks of which we have been a part. The most important ones are :
1. SANFEC - the South Asian Network for Food, Ecology & Culture
DDS has been a key player in all these networks.
As a member of the SANFEC, a South Asian Network for Food, Ecology and Culture the DDS has organised farmers exchanges, produced a participatory module for training on Dryland Agricultural Technology, has started initiatives like research on Productivity of Ecological Farms.
DDS has actively participated in two SANFEC meetings and the first SAARC People's Forum held at Sri Lanka. It is now on the Steering Committee of the Network.
The most important aspect of the DDS participation in SANFEC is the active way DDS women farmers are involved in the network meetings. Six of them went to Bangladesh to participate in the meeting in 1997 August. For some of them this was the first time they were moving out of their district. Many of them had not even sat in a train till that day. None of them could speak any language other than Telugu, their mother tongue. All of them were non-literate.
But none of these limitations came in their way of relating to their Bangladeshi sisters and brothers. But they did set up a fantastic relationship with Bangladeshi farmers, participated in the SANFEC meeting and contributed to the theory and ideology of the network. They exchanged seeds with the women of Bangladesh, sang and danced with them and spread a great canvas of goodwill.
In July 1998, the women went to Nepal to participate in a workshop on sustainable hill agriculture hosted by the USC-Canada, Nepal. This was a crucial workshop for SANFEC. As per the mandate given to SANFEC by its members, the network was supposed to conduct a series of trainings on sustainable agriculture, one each for the Hill Areas, Drylands and Wetland Ecosystems.
The women of DDS made a vibrant contribution right from the start. They designed a ritual motif for the inaugural ceremony. They drew a traditional Muggu design on the ground with millet flour, filled it with colours and placed a bouquet of grainheads in the middle. A large earthen lamp with multiple heads and a series of earthen lamps at different corners of the floral design decorated the motif. The women danced around it after lighting the lamp.
But it was not just the ritual celebration for which they contributed. They participated regularly in the discussions, became part of the panels and one of them Ms Masangari Narsamma, a non-literate farmer, even chaired a session on livestock. Through their intense knowledge of agriculture, they enriched the group discussions and made a valuable contribution to the development of the training module.
The Deccan Development Society has also assumed some key responsibilities in the SANFEC matrix.
Research & Documentation
Education, Awareness and Training
Community Based Activities
We are pleased to report that DDS is actively engaged in fulfilling all its commitments.
DDS took the lead role in initiating a network to promote participatory approaches to development. Centre for World Solidarity enthusiastically backed up the idea and took the lead in convening a set of leading NGO groups and important practitioners of PRA. The group included people from Government, Governmental institutions and NGOs as follows:
The team met a number of times to delineate its own role in participation and identified the following as its main functions:
The team has completed one course of training and many of them have started working with and influencing each other.
DDS has also actively worked with Alternative Educators Network, a group which is a combine of all the South Indian education groups.
The Using Diversity network is a group of ecological activists, scientists and NGOs who have been formed into a steering committee to administer a fund set up by the International Development Research Centre of Canada. As a part of this group DDS has influenced the policy direction of the group and has worked towards making the group recognise people's science.
One of the latest networks DDS has entered into is the group to fight against MNC lead Genetic Engineering in Agriculture. DDS took the lead in starting a campaign the global agrochemicals major Monsanto whose bollgard cotton was being surreptiously field tested in Andhra Pradesh. Through a constant media campaign and through building a coalition of NGOs and farmers organisations, the Society was able to influence the government to ban all Monsanto field trials in Andhra Pradesh.
Subsequently the Society has constructed a coalition of NGOs, Farmers organisations and scientists in Andhra Pradesh to lead a campaign against unthinking acceptance of Genetic Engineering. It has also taken up an important role in the national campaign on Genetic Engineering.
All these networks are a reflection of the way DDS has been trying to link up its intense micro understanding of the development, food security, participation and sustainable agriculture situations to global campaigns.
- P V Satheesh