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Prajateerpu:  A Citizens’ Jury / Scenario Workshop on Food Futures for Andhra Pradesh, India



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Background. The State of Andhra Pradesh (AP) in South India is currently re-thinking 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 local and state level partners 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. AP officials and international donors also point to areas in Vision 2020 that need further public consultation and refinement.

The UK based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) were asked to facilitate a participatory process to encourage more public debate in policy choices on food futures for the State of Andhra Pradesh.

Prajateerpu,- the “citizens’ jury” on food and farming futures in Andhra Pradesh (A. P.)-, was an exercise in deliberative democracy involving marginal-livelihood citizens from all three regions of the state of Andhra Pradesh.  It took place at the Government of India’s Farmer Liaison Centre (KVK), Algole Village, Zaheerabad Taluk,  Medak District, Andhra Pradesh, June 25-July 1, 2001. 

The national partners involved in this international collaboration on deliberative democracy and the future of food systems, livelihoods and the environment include the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity, The University of Hyderabad, AP and the all-India National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP).


Deliberative Democracy. Deliberative and inclusionary processes (DIPs) are used in the North and the South to give the historically excluded a stake in decisions. Over the past quarter century a number of ‘participatory’ methods have been developed in an attempt to supplement conventional democratic processes, moving beyond traditional forms of consultation. Some of these methods and processes include citizens’ juries, neighbourhood forums, consensus conferences, scenario workshops, multi-criteria mapping, participatory rural appraisal, visioning exercises and deliberative polling.

Recent examples that have allowed local voices to influence policy processes include:

Scenario workshops and on urban planning in Denmark

A Citizen jury on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Karnataka

Consensus conferences and deliberative polling on location of toxic wastes in Switzerland

These experiences from the North and South have been used to design and organise a Citizen Jury on Food Futures for Andhra Pradesh. 


The citizen jury. The central component of this exercise in deliberative democracy was a citizen jury made up of representatives of small and marginal farmers from AP, small traders and food processors and consumers. To reflect the reality of rural Andhra Pradesh, most of the jury members were small and marginal farmers and also included indigenous (known in India as ‘adivasi’) people. Over two thirds of the jury members were women.


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

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 such as genetic modification 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 begun to provide funding and advice towards this programme.

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.

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 some farmers unions in India and elsewhere.

Each vision was presented through videos. Video footage was assembled to illustrate the salient features of life under each particular vision.  Each vision narrative was followed by a succinct summary of the policies and institutions that steered Andhra Pradesh towards that particular food future (or vision).


Expert witnesses. Following the video presentations, expert witnesses presented the case for a particular vision of the future. Members of the AP Government (such as a senior member of the Department of Agriculture), the corporate sector (including Dr Partha Dasgupta of Syngenta) and civil society organisations (such as Dr Sagari Ram Das of Anthra and Dr Debashis Banerji of Samaj Pragati Sahayog) were given equal amounts of time to present their case to the jury. Jury members were allowed to cross question expert witnesses after their presentation.


Jury selection. The jury was selected from a range of different livelihood systems across the three regions of Andhra Pradesh. The selection process was overseen by a team of participatory researchers at the University of Hyderabad, led by Dr Vinod Pavarala, Reader in Communication.


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

The scenarios were images of different possibilities for the future. They were meant to inspire criticism which can assist in the generation of new visions and action proposals, -including policy recommendations.


An oversight panel. The jury/scenario workshop process was overseen by an oversight panel,- a group of external observers. They checked the videos produced and observed the whole process. Its was their role is to ensure that each  Food Future is presented in a fair and unprejudiced way, and that the process is trustworthy and is not captured by any interest group.

The Panel consisted of:

Justice Savant, Chair, Press Commission of India and former Chief Judge of the  Supreme Court of India.

Dr Paul ter Weel, High Commissioner for Rural Development, Netherlands Embassy

Ms Savitri, member of Giridijan Deepika, an Adivasi-run NGO for tribal peoples empowerment working in the Eastern Ghats region of Andhra Pradesh.

Mr Y.N. Naidu, Andhra Pradesh  coordinator of AME (Man and Ecology), India

Dr Sandeep Chachra, Regional Manager, Hyderabad, ActionAid India.


Representatives of the World Bank and the UK’s Department for International Development were also invited to act as independent observers.


Funding

Funding for Prajateeru came from the Dutch Government overseas development agency (DGIS) (via IIED’s Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods Programme), the Rockefeller Foundation (via IDS’s Environment Group), and the Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Diversity.

Facilitators

Suda Goparaju,  Programme Support Team, Rural Livelihoods Project, Government of Andhra Pradesh

Kavitha Kuruganti, Programmes Division, ActionAid India

Vinod Pavarala, Reader, Communication Programme, University of Hyderabad


Media involvement.

Media professionals were invited for two purposes:

To film the entire citizen jury/scenario workshop process. The resulting comprehensive visual archives (video) are available to any party or external agencies wishing to learn from this experience or check for shortcomings in the deliberative process.

To relay information on the event and its outcomes to a wider audience,-both nationally and internationally.


The Verdict

The key conclusions reached by the jury – their ‘vision’ – included a desire for:

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.

And opposition to:


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


The Future

The jury process and verdict will hopefully 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 states, the outcomes of this deliberative and inclusive process should be of national and international significance.

The jury’s vision and priorities for food and farming will inform the directions of

IIED’s 4 year action research on Sustaining Local Food Systems, Agricultural Biodiversity and Livelihoods in Andhra Pradesh.

Last, Prajateerpu provides a fascinating case study in which an attempt was made for the inclusion of the genuinely poor and marginalised into the policy process. The necessary analysis for conclusions to be reached is now underway.


Further Reading

Pimbert, M.P and Wakeford, T., 2001. Deliberative democracy and citizen empowerment. Special issue of PLA Notes 40, IIED. Co-published by The Commonwealth Foundation, ActionAid and IIED.


Further information

IIED's "Sustaining local food systems, agricultural biodiversity and livelihoods" project.

IDS Environment Group’s ‘Democratising Biotechnology’ project. See  http://www.ids.ac.uk/IDS/env/envnew.html

'The Independent' Newspaper reports the outcomes of the Prajateerpu Citizens jury on Food and Farming futures in Andhra Pradesh

Full Report

'Prajateerpu:A Citizens Jury / Scenario Workshop on Food and Farming Futures for Andhra Pradesh, India' - Michel Pimbert (IIED) and Tom Wakeford (IDS)

 

 

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