Everyone it seems knows what India's farmers want. Take the World bank, for instance:
"China and India are globalizing not because anyone can tell these proud fiercely independent countries what to do - but because this is what THEY have figured out is good for THEMSELVES". Milan Brahmbhatt, World Bank, 2001
GM proponents angered by the Indian government's recent refusal to approve GM cotton have been similarly certain:
"Farmers in India must have the right to decide which seed to use. For too long those who know little about farming have claimed to know what is best for 'peasants'. It is time now to give Indian farmers choice to speak up for themselves. "
They conclude, "Perhaps a rural revolt is necessary to bring about change of heart in the policy makers"*
But now someone has actually bothered to allow Indian farmers to decide for themselves what they think about globalisation and GM crops - see press release and articles below. It is indeed time to allow Indian farmers to speak up for themselves
[Betrayal Of Indian Farmers! by P Chengal Reddy President, Federation Of Farmers Associations and Dr. J.R. Murthy, Sr. Faculty, Administrative Staff College Of India, Hyderabad]
Indian Farmers Vs Globalised Capital
Andhra Pradesh farmers put World Bank/DFID on trial. Read Tom Wakeford's intro at: http://members.tripod.com/~ngin/indfarm.htm
Indian Farmers Jury Call for Halt to DFID Funding of Mechanisation
In an historic “citizens’ jury” event held in the government farmers training centre of Medak District, Andhra Pradesh, nineteen small and marginal farmers (14 women, 5 men), including thirteen from the untouchable (dalit) caste, called for a halt to foreign funding of their Government’s Vision 2020. The funding has been offered by both the World Bank and the UK Government’s DFID.
Their verdict concluded that:
We, having heard evidence and deliberated between June 26 and July 1, 2001, present the following verdict.
*The proposed reduction of those making their livelihood from the land from 70%-40% in Andhra Pradesh [as proposed by DFID-funded Vision 2020]
*Land consolidation and displacement of rural people
*GM Crops - including Vitamin A rice & Bt cotton
*Loss of control over medicinal plants including their export
*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.
They further demanded:
*That foreign aid (from white people) should follow this vision and benefit the poorest.
To contact organisers:
PV Satheesh, Michel Pimbert or Tom Wakeford
Ring +91 98 103 52242 or +91 98 480 44531
Extracts from Indian newspapers, July 2, 2001:
Times of India
Headline: FARMERS SAY NO TO MECHANISED FARMING
In a wake up call to the state government, a ‘farmers court’ delivered a verdict against the policy of mechanised farming and came down heavily on contract farming system and the government’s aim of rteducing the number of people dependent on agriculture from 70 to 40% over the next 20 years.
In the first ever exercise of this kind”¦a jury of 18 farmers and one consumer representative comprising 14 women and five men declared they would rather continue with the traditional farming methods where people and cattle had an important role to play.
Ammaji, from Visakhapatnam district and one of the jurors, delivering the verdict, said: ‘we will do our farming and the government can provide inputs. We want to stand on our own two feet and do not need machines. We want cattle. And we are against contract farming.’
Deevanamma from Kurnool said: ‘we want to continue our traditional methods of farming. We want to raise crops and save seed for the next crop. The new methods being forced on us are interfering in the conduct of our festivals. We want to be able to buy grain at the price we sell.
Raising another aspect of their verdict, Anjamma, a farmer from Medak district, made a forceful plea against use of pesticides and fertilisers. ‘All the chemicals we are asked to use get into the foodgrains. Would you like to eat chemical-laced food?’
Headline: ‘Farmers jury’ rejects Govt. policies
Unlettered they were but making full use of their native cropping knowledge, a ‘Farmers Jury’ of small and marginal farmers drawn from different parts of Andhra Pradesh State, gathered in this dusty village to deliver a Prajateerpu (people’s verdict) on Sunday, rejecting summarily the AP Government’s ambitious changes in the agricultural sector.
Before passing the verdict, dubbed a unique and significant experiment in democratic governance, the 19-member ‘farmers jury’ watched for full five days ivdeo films on three options, heard with rapt attention and deliberated on presentations by Government officials, agriculture scientists, representatives of a seed company farmers’ leaders from the state and a farmer from the UK.
Anjamma was quite vocal against the use of toxic pesticides.Narsamma, a tribal, narrated how their festivals were linked to farming activities. Summing up the five day deliberations Mr P V Satheesh of the AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity (APCDD) said “Hopefully their voice would be heard and necessary changes made in agricultural policies”.
Besides APCDD, the other two UK-based organisations involved in the event were the International Institute for Environment and Development, and the Institute of Development Studies. The students of the Communications department of the University of Hyderabad were involved in shortlisting the jury members and preparing a video on the proceedings.