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Prajateerpu : Food Futures for Andhra Pradesh, India
 
 

Background

Prajateerpu ('the people's verdict') is the latest application of citizens' jury / scenario workshop methods that have been used widely in the USA, UK, Germany, and recently adapted for use in Third World locations such as Karnataka and Brazil.

The Prajateerpu, a farmers jury on Food Futures in the state of Andhra Pradesh in South India was organised in the context of the currently re-thinking by AP on 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 farmers associations and a large number of NGOs in the state 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. In fact the AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity, a coalition of over 140 grassroots groups in AP lead by the Deccan Development Society had taken up protest demonstrations and public meetings all over the state in 2000 and collected over 200,000 signatures of farmers in opposition to these policies. AP officials and international donors also point to areas in Vision 2020 that need further public consultation and refinement.

As a sequel to these actions, the Prajateerpu was held from June 26 - July 1, 20001 at village Algole in Medak District of Andhra Pradesh. This exercise included the use of participatory methodologies to broaden democratic deliberation and decision making on the future of food systems in AP. Working with a broad coalition of farmer groups, NGOs, media specialists and scientists from AP as well as international partners such as IIED, London the Jury aimed to use a combination of scenario workshops and citizens' juries to encourage more deliberative and inclusive debate in policy choices on food futures for the State of Andhra Pradesh.

Methodology

1. Selection of jury members

Lessons from previous experiences with citizen juries and deliberative processes were used to help recruit representative jury members consisting of a 19 member jury consisting of 14 women and five men from the following categories:

  • small and marginal farmers near or below the poverty line
  • no close connection to NGOs or political parties
  • articulate in discussions without being dominant

To this end we asked all NGOs working with small and marginal farmers in Andhra Pradesh to nominate 3 or 4 women and 2 or 3 men for the jury, and provide a profile of each. This gave us a pool for 60 or more jurors from which a final jury was selected ensuring that a representative proportion of Dalits, adivasis and women were represented in the same proportion as are present in the rural population of Andhra Pradesh.


2. Three Visions of the Future

Jury members were presented with three different scenarios. Each advocated by key opinion-formers who attempted to show the logic behind the scenario. It was up to the jury then to decide which of the three scenarios was most likely to provide them with the best opportunities to enhance their livelihoods, food security and environment twenty years from now.

1. 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) has expressed an intention to provide a large grant towards this programme.

2. 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.

3. 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 peasant unions such as Via Campesina .

Each scenario or vision was presented to the citizen-farmer jury members in two complementary ways:

1. Visual presentation.

Each vision was presented through videos. Video footage was assembled to illustrate the salient features of life under each particular vision. Videos on Vision 2020 and Localised Food Futures were produced in India whist the organic exports vision required some footage from the UK and elsewhere. Existing material was sourced from organisations such as Doordarahan, India, several Indian producers and the Television Trust for Environment (TVE) and the BBC. The film director P V Satheesh from the Development Perspectives, Hyderabad worked closely with the facilitators to ensure a fair and consistent representation of "life under each scenario".



The jury watch TV

2. Short oral/written description.

Each vision was further described in written simple, engaging two-page narratives of daily life that virtually anyone can easily understand. Each two-page narrative is followed by a succinct summary of the policies and institutions that steered Andhra Pradesh towards that particular food future (or vision).

Making comparisons between visions meaningful.

To facilitate comparisons, visuals and text/oral presentations described how the following are specifically constructed under each scenario or vision:

  • Ecology of Food Production
  • Ecology of Food Marketing
  • Food and the Economy
  • Food and Community
  • Governance and Food Security

3. Expert witnesses

A number of individuals were identified and invited to defend a particular vision of food futures in developing countries.. For example, the World Bank economists and members of the current Government of Andhra Pradesh were invited to explain and defend Vision 2020. [It was interesting that the World Bank which always highlights how concerned it is about hearing the voices of the poor, refused to attend the jury in spite of repeated invitations and requests, both the the Delhi office and the Washington headquarters]. Specialist expert witnesses were also sought to address more specific concerns embedded in particular scenarios e.g. impacts of new technologies such as GMOs. [Please see the list of experts at the end of this brief]

Each one of these expert witnesses addressed the jury members directly and was open to cross examination by the jury. An expert witness presentation lasted for 25-30 mns (max) and time for cross examination by jury members was around 30 to 45mns.

4. Role of the Jury members

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 was 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 were free to choose a particular pre-formed vision OR combine elements of all three futures and derive their own unique vision(s).



Dr. Partha Dasgupta,
SYNGENTA Seeds Asia-Pacific

The scenarios were images of different possibilities for the future. They were meant to inspire criticism to assist in the generation of new visions and action proposals. An important task of the jury was to devise an action proposal which can implement the chosen visions. When the visions are to be realised a range of obstacles will present themselves, which it was important not to overlook. These obstacles can for example be financial, organisational and political or technical. Therefore the vision realisation proposals were deliberated upon in both small groups and in plenary.

Good quality facilitation was available throughout this process and Telegu speaking facilitators were identified and briefed. Facilitation particularly focussed on

  • the creation of new knowledge on locally existing visions, barriers and opportunities to realise visions;
  • the production of policy proposals: who must do what to accomplish the the necessary changes;
  • eliciting a more qualified debate based on an increased exchange of experience and knowledge

5. Stakeholder Panel

The jury/scenario workshop process was overseen by a stakeholder panel,- a group of external observers. The inclusion of stakeholders with a diverse range of interests on this panel was an important way of ensuring the methodology was not captured by a group with a particular perspective or vested interest. In this context, the concept of stakeholder was widened to include those who are stake-less, having been marginalised by prevailing socio-economic forces. The organisers believe that only if there is a balance on the oversight body between those whose human rights are at risk, and those with power, will it be likely to produce a process that is both fair, and seen to be fair.

Members of the stakeholder-observer panel included representatives from DFID, the private sector, Indian farmers, independent Indian intellectuals….The stakeholder-observer panel also pre-viewed the videos produced and ensured that each Food Future was presented in a fair and unprejudiced way.

Mr P B Sawant a respected former judge of the Supreme Court, India's apex court and currently chair of the Press Council of India, headed the Stakeholder panel.



The jury asks questions

6. Media involvement

Media professionals were invited for two purposes:

  • To film the entire citizen jury/scenario workshop process. The resulting comprehensive visual archives (video) will be available to any party or external agencies wishing to learn from this experience or check for any bias and shortcomings in the deliberative process.
  • To relay information on the event and its outcomes to a wider audience,-both nationally and internationally.

7. Outcomes

The jury's verdict will contribute to several objectives:

  • 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 state, the outcomes of this deliberative and inclusive process should be of national and international significance.


Expert Witnesses

  1. Mr Ajeya Kallam
    [sent Mr Egbal Rao, Addl Commissioner of Agriculture on his behalf]
    Commissioner and Director of Agriculture Andhra Pradesh, Government of India
  2. Prof. MV Rao
    Former Vice Chancellor of Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University, Hyderabad
  3. P.Chengal Reddy
    President AP Federation of Farmers Associations
  4. Dr KPC Rao
    Principal scientist, Economic Planning, National Academy of Agricultural Research Management, Hyderabad
  5. Dr. Alexander Daniels
    President IFOAM-Asia
  6. Dr. Shivram Krishna
    Cultural Anthropologist working with Tribal Peoples in AP
  7. Dr Sagari Ramdas,
    Director, Anthra, Specialist in livestock issues
  8. Dr. Partha Dasgupta,
    SYNGENTA Seeds Asia-Pacific
  9. Dr Debashis Banerji,
    Former Head and Professor Botany and Molecular Biology CCS University, Meerut
  10. Michael Hart,
    President of the Small and Family Farm Alliance, UK
  11. Colin Hines,
    Associate, International Forum on Globalisation, UK
  12. Dr T N Prakash,
    Professor of Agriculture and Coordinator, Agro Biodiversity Group of
    National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), India

 

PRAJATEERPU

June 26 and July 1, 2001

We, having heard evidence and deliberated between June 26 and July 1, 2001, present the following verdict.


OUR VISION

We desire:

  • 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.


We Oppose:

  • The proposed reduction of those making their livelihood from the land from 70%-40% in Andhra Pradesh
  • Land consolidation and displacement of rural people
  • Contract farming
  • Labour-displacing mechanisation
  • GM Crops - including Vitamin A rice & Bt cotton
  • Loss of control over medicinal plants including their export


DETAILED SCENARIO

Access & control over resources

Land

We desire:

  • To own the land we work ourselves.
  • The restoration of our title to land and rights over forests.
  • Schemes for land re-distribution and reclamation.

We oppose:

  • Land consolidation and displacement of rural people
  • Contract farming

 

Water

We desire:

  • Restoration of our irrigation tanks
  • Irrigation water during drought years
  • Borewells as a collectively managed resource for small farmers.

 

Seeds

We desire:

  • Self-reliance
  • Right to re-use on-farm saved seeds.

 

Medicinal plants

We oppose:

  • Loss of control including export of medicinal plants

 

Agriculture & Food Systems

We desire:

  • The maintenance of the variety and diversity of our crops & animals
  • The continued integration of livestock in our agriculture (including goats)
  • Practices that maintain soil strength - (inc. livestock/FYM/mixed cropping, cover crops, neem cake, groundnut husk)
  • Agricultural systems that require low investments
  • Indigenous agriculture - including an appropriate combination of silt, FYM,
    traditional seeds, improved seeds, mixed/rotated cropping, farm-saved seed,
    control over seed selection.
  • Agricultural systems that generate secure livelihoods

We oppose:

  • The proposed reduction of those making their livelihood from the land from 70%-40% in Andhra Pradesh.

 

Science/Technologies


We desire:

  • Recognition & respect for indigenous knowledge & innovations
  • Restoration of water tanks and indigenous water management practice
  • Appropriate irrigation

We oppose:

  • GM crops - including Vitamin A rice & Bt cotton
  • Waste of money on research & development into inappropriate technologies that
    could instead be diverted to help us achieve our vision.
  • Labour-displacing mechanisation



Support & protective mechanisms

We desire:

  • Agriculture that does not require loans, so long as we have been ensured access to sufficient livestock & water sources
  • Subsidies for inputs for organic agriculture - inc. FYM/natural pesticides/traditional varieties
  • Local outlets for produce , and local sources of inputs
  • The PDS - don't take away our ration cards
  • That the Antyodaya (PDS for poorest) should reach us.
  • Fair returns for our work & produce


Own institutions for self-reliance and local decision-making

We desire:

  • That the formation of representative organisations of farmers should be
    facilitated
  • Community crop planning
  • Local management, access & control over prices, markets & marketing
  • Re-training in indigenous resources management
  • That we can be linked up to farmers in different regions

We oppose:

  • Contract farming

 

Culture

We desire:

  • Agricultural systems compatible with own culture, (including trees/crops/livestock linked to festivals)

We object to:

  • The loss of opportunity for hospitality due to our lack of self-reliance in food and high cost of its purchase


Environmental/Human Health

We desire:

  • High quality safe food (free of toxic residues)
  • Nutritious diverse food
  • A switch to a system of farming that does not need toxic chemical pesticides
  • Diverse native forests instead of monoculture plantations (e.g. eucalyptus)


Role of Governments

We desire:

  • That all employees of the state should be accountable to us - (including) including forest officials)
  • That the government should be responsible for provision of basic services such as
  • drinking water
  • monitoring prices
  • compensation in case of loss of life in agriculture
  • giving loans to small, marginal and landless farmers.
  • banning spurious pesticides
  • That foreign aid (from white people) should follow this vision and benefit the poorest.

 

The Members of the Citizens' Jury

Facilitators:

Sudha Goparaju
Programme Support Team, Rural Livelihoods Programme, Government of Andhra Pradesh

Kavitha Kuruganti
Programmes Division, ActionAid India

Vinod Pavarala
Communication Programme, University of Hyderabad


Collaborators:

Dr Michel Pimbert
The International Institute for Environment and Development is an independent policy research organisation based in London, specialising on environmentally sound and sustainable development.

Sri P V Satheesh
The Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity, is A.P.'s leading forum for the discussion of different agricultural options for the State's future, emphasising options that ensure sustainable and socially just futures.

Dr Vinod Pavarala, UoH
The University of Hyderabad's Communication Programme is part of the renowned Sarojini Naidu School for Performing Arts, Fine Arts & Communication, and is an international centre of excellence for development communication.

Dr Tom Wakeford, IDS
The Institute of Development Studies is the leading centre for participatory research in development, based at the University of Sussex, U.K.


Host:

DDS Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Medak District, Andhra Pradesh.