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Workshop on Agrarian Crisis

Event Start Date:
3rd April 2018
Event End Date:
8th April 2018
Event Venue:
Palampur, Himachal Pradesh

Workshop on understanding and addressing the Agrarian Crisis
3 April – 8 April, Sambhaavnaa Institute, Kandbari Palampur

To read the full call for applications and apply, please visit:


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.


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