This Policy School workshop is being actively shaped and facilitated by ASHA.
Workshop on understanding and addressing the Agrarian Crisis 3-7 Apr’ 2018
3rd-7th April, 2018
Farmers in our country have been in deep distress over the last few decades as agriculture has been made systematically unviable as a means of living. Farmer suicides are only the extreme symptom of a much deeper underlying crisis that has gripped agriculture. The agrarian crisis has many dimensions to it- economic, environmental, social and political. How do we unearth the roots of this crisis? And is there a way forward?
Recent mobilizations by farmers groups across the country sought to address key economic aspects of the crisis- the issue of remunerative prices for agricultural produce and loan waivers- the freedom from debt. The economic aspects are not limited to these alone: there is the crucial question of income security for farmers, international agreements like WTO, (declining) public investments on agriculture, in addition to the macro-paradigm of growth-driven ‘development’ which believes in displacement from agriculture as an indicator of development! What kind of policies should one demand for a guaranteed income for farmers, and what kind of international trade in agriculture would benefit farmers rather than exploit us?
The persistent push for green revolution models of farming has led to excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, poisoning soils and water bodies apart from being responsible for a significant fraction of carbon emissions contributing to climate change. There are many models of ecological agriculture that are based on restoring and nourishing soil health, minimizing the use of external inputs and have the potential for climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation, and also challenge corporate vested interests which seek monopoly over seeds. Can such “alternative” methods of farming be scaled up? What kinds of policies would help the spread of environmentally conscious farming systems?
It is important to recognize that an environmentally sound farming system is in itself an incomplete solution if it does not address the question of social relations within farming communities. In farming, the central social concern is around gender. Most of the farming activities are done by women, but patriarchy combined with a flawed state policy fails to recognize women as farmers. Equally important is how caste structures operate in agriculture- where landless farmers are denied land due to historical injustice and are also not recognized as farmers. It becomes important therefore to address social injustice vis a vis gender and caste as a key part of any solution to agrarian crisis.
The reclamation and defense of the sovereignty of farming communities- over seeds, water, land, forests, territories and knowledge- is therefore the main political anchor for articulating the rights of farmers.
Why this workshop?
The “farmer in distress” is not a single narrative. There are landed farmers, small and marginal farmers, subsistence farmers, farmers growing for the market, landless farmers, tenant farmers, livestock rearers, fisherfolk, and adivasi farmers- and the specific ways in which the agrarian crisis impacts different farmers are different. How do we then identify the key issues and propose potential solutions for such varied concerns? What are the common rallying points? How do we think of ways of advocating for and formulating policies that are inclusive and that address the concerns of all kinds of farmers?
Piecemeal attempts to address only one or the other of above-mentioned aspects of the agrarian crisis only produce incomplete solutions. For farmers, activists working with farmers, policy advocates, and farmers’ organizations, it becomes crucial to be able to have a holistic understanding of the roots of the current crisis- which includes a broad range of issues from international Free Trade Agreements, to gender inequities in farming, to the various practices of ecological agriculture. We often see that different farmers, activists and organizations have focused on certain aspects in their work while completely ignoring the others. However, our resolve to address the agrarian crisis requires an engagement with the full breadth of issues and also a plurality of solutions. It is therefore essential to come together to understand the various economic, environmental, social and political dimensions of the agrarian crisis in conjunction, and how they relate to one another. This is of utmost urgency and necessity for a collective, collaborative effort to address the agrarian crisis and to move towards an environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially just ways of practising agriculture.
This workshop aims to integrate all these social, environmental and economic aspects of the agrarian crisis and will help in identifying the limitations of piece-meal solutions. It will encourage activists, farmers, and policy researchers to see the interconnections between different aspects of the agrarian crisis, and to emerge with a broader long-term vision for new systems of agriculture. The workshop is aimed to open up space for discussing how to address them so as to propose holistic models of agriculture. It also aims to spell out the specific flaws with the existing policy framework and what the desired changes in policies are that farmers’ movements can campaign for.
Who can participate?
The workshop is open for farmers working in farmers’ organizations, for activists working with farmers groups, for researchers, journalists engaged with agriculture policy, and for other organizations or individuals engaged in addressing current challenges and/or building alternatives.
The workshop will be held mostly in English and Hindi, with possibly interpretation in other languages. Please specify in the application form about your specific language support requirements. Let language not be a barrier to your participation!
About the facilitators
The workshop would be anchored by Kiran Vissa (a founding member of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, a farmers’ organisation in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh ) and Kavitha Kuruganti (of the Allaince for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, ASHA)
Other prominent resource persons would be Dr.Ramanjaneyulu of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA, Hyderabad), Usha Seethalakshmi /Soma Parthasarthy from MAKAAM, Kapil Shah (Jatan Trust, Baroda) Yogendra Yadav (Swaraj India, AIKSCC) and some others.
(Some of these names are tentative as we are still in the process of finalizing their participation.)
Contribution towards Programs Costs: We hope that participants would contribute an amount of Rs. 4000 for 5 days/- towards workshop expenses, inclusive of all onsite workshop costs: boarding, lodging, and all the materials used in the workshop. Need based partial waivers are available; We have a very limited number of partial waivers so please apply for a waiver only if you really need it. Do remember that there may be others who need it more than you.
Dates: 3rd April 10:00 AM to 7th April 5:00 PM 2018.
Venue: Sambhaavnaa Institute, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh
Contact: For more information please call 889 422 7954 or email: programs@sambhaavnaa.
Please fill the Application form to apply online at http://www.sambhaavnaa.org/