Grassroots Reachout & Networking in India on Trade & Economics (GRANITE)

Andhra Pradesh First Reachout Meeting
Warangal, June 14, 2005

Consumer Guidance Society (CGS), Vijayawada – project partner for Andhra Pradesh – as part of the project’s activities organised a daylong reach out meeting on June 14, 2005, with farmers in Ogulapur, Atmakur Mandal, Warangal district. Farmers from Damera, Ogulapur, Akkampeta, Gudeppadu and Peddapur participated in the meeting. Almost 50 percent of the participants were women. The meeting began with inaugural remarks by Pallepadu Damodar, Sarvodaya Youth Organisation (SYO) and was subsequently addressed by Narasimha Reddy, Project Coordinator, GRANITE and Member, IFOAM-Asia Board, Ch Diwakar Babu, Nodal Person, GRANITE, Damodar K, Convenor of Andhra Pradesh Coalition in Defence of Biodiversity and Premender Reddy, District President of Bharatiya Janta Party. This was followed by interaction with the farmers on a one to one basis.


Most of the farmers in the district own less than five acres and belong to backward sections of society. Majority of them, most of the time, produce only cotton. Presently, some of them are participating in organic cotton production project. Warangal district is a major cotton-producing district. Significantly, this district is also the place where most farmers have committed suicide in the last five years. Even earlier, there were suicides in the periods from 1997-98 and 1987-88. It is apparent that the suicides in this district have become periodical and have been high for many reasons.

The complexity is increasing as the socio-economic changes, policy shifts and global integration is the trend. As everybody agrees, suicides are an indicator of a deeper malaise, and have many dimensions. While it may not be possible to highlight one single factor as causative for this situation, it is clear to long-term observers of the situation in this district that the periodical crisis are due to different reasons, and not necessarily the same. But this is not to say that there is no repetition of the causal factors, which range from failure of nature to failure of policies.

With this background, CGS set out to organise reachout meeting in one of the villages, inviting farmers from neighbouring villages as well, to share the experiences and learn from each other.


The objective of the meeting was to bring farmers to a common platform, to discuss the opportunities and challenges in agriculture and to share the experiences and enhance information and opinions with reference to their livelihood.

Highlights of the discussion

D Narasimha Reddy

Stated that development is the common goal of people, policy-makers and dream merchants. However, it is important to learn the factors that impinge upon the development.

Price fluctuations for crop outputs is increasingly being influenced by not just local and national factors but also international factors, including trade mechanisms, currency fluctuations and policies.

Quality, yield, input prices, wages, crop prices and host of factors influence the competitiveness of Indian agriculture. Presently, Indian produce is not competitive in any of these areas.

Ch Diwakar Babu

Subsidies do have a large influence on the agricultural prices and competitiveness. Unlike developed countries, subsidies in India are quite low. This is primarily because of the disparities in the agricultural situations.

Irrespective of subsidies, it is important that in a free trade regime, there is a need for level playing field. The trade regime created under WTO allows patenting of life forms, seeds and plants of new varieties proper monitoring, regulation and check which can play havoc with the traditional rights of farmers. Hence, countries like ours should focus more on this in order to safeguard the traditional rights of our farming community.

Sambaiah, Farmer, Akkampet

“More awareness programmes have to be conducted for farmers. Prices of cotton have fallen this year probably because of the integration into WTO”

Comments: This farmer appeared to have learnt earlier about WTO and so was his response.

Lakshmi, Farmer, Gudeppadu village

“Remunerative prices have declined Input costs have increased Seeds and input quality is increasingly being compromised upon Investment per acre has increased”

Comments: In the era of liberalisation and diminutive role of the state, regulation is suffering. As a result, farmers are increasingly facing the above-mentioned problems. Farmers, in Warangal, in the past three years have faced this problem, with the government unable to rein the pesticide and seed companies/representatives from cheating the farmers. Spurious pesticides and seeds have become the norm, with government remaining mostly as an unconcerned onlooker. 

Vanitha, Farmer, Peddapur

“A unified approach among the farmers does not exist any longer. Every farmer is functioning in isolation and the community approach seems to have got lost somewhere.

Suicides have increased because of the family-level economic crisis caused by a number of factors, including policies and debauchery. Water scarcity is also a big problem.

Availability of seeds is a problem because good quality seeds are not available on time and in adequate quantity. Big and upper caste farmers get the best seeds from the dealers, and spurious ones are given to dalit farmers, pushing them further into debt and poverty.”

Comments: Fragmentation of Indian agriculture into various castes and classes is one of the results of the modern agriculture and this is adversely affecting the small and marginal farmers. 

Hamsali Reddy, Farmer, Damera

“Farmers are being confused by packets/packaging of seeds in packets or boxes. There is misleading advertising that prevents the farmers from making the right choice.

Government control and regulation on seed companies is almost nil or decreasing. There are many spurious seed companies. Popular brands are imitated. Companies and the government do not take responsibility for the consequences suffered by the farmers. Shops are resorting to sale of seeds and pesticides either below or above MRP. Both the sales cannot be legally condoned.”

Sadanandam, Motivator, Damera

“Use of pesticides would result in the gradual erosion of soil fertility, besides killing of useful bacteria. Hence, it is better to revert to old farming practices and methods.”

K Damodar, Convenor, AP Coalition in Defence of Biodiversity

“There are different patent systems in different countries. India’s patent system has been changed because of it being part of WTO agreements. Farmers are facing problems because of these patent systems. Competition is leading to decrease in costs. However, it is also debilitating domestic production.”

Premender Reddy, District President, Bharatiya Janata Party

“Prior to emergence of WTO, there were protests from all quarters, irrespective of political affiliations. Presently, everyone seems to have accepted the inclusion of India in WTO. Awareness campaigns such as this have to be taken up for utilising the opportunities and facing the challenges in the WTO system.”


  • Given the present circumstances, pursuing organic farming is the best option for farmers, as it enables them to be independent in production and also decreases the risk of unremunerative market prices, given the less input costs; and
  • Regulatory framework over seed companies should be strengthened to curb spurious and ineffective marketing of such seeds and facilitate informed choice.

Feedback/Opinion of participants

CGS team did an opinion assessment at the end of the meeting, to know the effectiveness of the reachout. Some of the responses were as follows-

“We have learnt many things which are impinging on our livelihoods. We are happy that we learned these things. It improved our understanding. Prior presentations have enabled us to understand the complex issues. These kinds of informal discussions should be continued for empowerment and participation of stakeholders in policy framing.In addition to oral presentations it would have been better to use cultural media of education such as film.”

Methodology used by CGS

  • Mobilising farmers by staff of SYO;
  • Distribution of a two-page pamphlet in target villages prior to the meeting;
  • Verbal presentations in the meeting;
  • Local language was the means of communication;
  • Partnership with organisations with credibility among these farmers;
  • Magic show by a professional magician to sustain the staying capacity of farmers;
  • Explaining complex issues through examples and drawing analogy to magic show; and
  • Proper moderation of the discussion