Grassroots Reachout & Networking in India on Trade & Economics (GRANITE)
Orissa State Level Project Launch Meeting
CYSD-DRTC, Bhubaneswar office premises, July 12, 2005
A half-day State Level Launch Meeting on GRANITE project was organised by Centre for Youth & Social Development (CYSD) on July 12, 2005. The meeting aimed to share the objectives and outcomes of GRANITE project in the state of Orissa. It also aimed at bringing all the stakeholders to a common platform to discuss the opportunities and challenges in the sectors of agriculture and textiles & clothing (T&C) with reference to World Trade Organisation (WTO) process. Invitees including members of State Reference Group (SRG), government officials, lawyers, trade unions, donor agencies, academia, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), media personnel and team members of CYSD- Centre for Policy, Research and Advocacy (CEPRA) attended the meeting.
At the outset of the meeting, Jagadananda, Member Secretary, CYSD welcomed all the participants and briefly commenced the GRANITE project. The welcome session was followed by self-introduction from the participants and was chaired by Kalyan Ray, IAS, (Retd.).
Brief Presentation on GRANITE Project
In the presentation, Gitanjali Jena, Programme Coordinator, CEPRA, highlighted the primary objectives of the project. It was stated that the project aims at creating awareness and enhancing civil society’s understanding on the issues of globalisation and WTO through effective information dissemination. Its purpose is to gather people’s perception on globalisation and WTO issues with special emphasis on the impact of globalisation on agriculture and T&C sector with respect to livelihood concerns. The project also seeks to establish linkages between the grassroots and the policy-makers (both at the state and the national level) so as to integrate people’s views and concerns on issues of globalisation and WTO into the policy-making process.
Aiming at the above the project will enable civil society organisations (CSOs) and other targeted stakeholders to comprehendissues of globalisation and WTO better through the promotion of knowledge sharing, dialogue and collective learning. This will enable them to articulate and advocate on issues of globalisation and the WTO and apply the learnings in their respective fields of activities particularly those concerning the poor.
This was followed by two panel discussions on the ‘Opportunities & Challenges’ on agriculture and T&C sectors in the context of Orissa. The panellists were from government departments, media, trade unions and NGOs.
Panel Discussion on Agriculture
- Amiya K. Behera, IARS, Managing Director – Agricultural Promotion and Investment Corporation Ltd. (APICOL)
- Nageswar Patnaik, Journalist, The Economic Times
- Jagadish Pradhan, Sahabhagi Vikash Abhiyan (SVA)
Highlights of the Discussion
Major concern elicited was the poor information base relating to the agriculture production such as
- Volume of production
- Trends in marketability of the crops
- Trends in price accessibility in different districts against each item and crops
- Inventory of resources
- Inventory of infrastructure and its utilisation pattern
Information related to the WTO process, agreement on agriculture and state WTO cell is very poor across the different stakeholders in the state. Even no mechanism has been worked out for collating and analysing the information from the grassroots and further submitting to the central WTO cell for negotiation.
Political parties, government and CSOs are not in a position to comprehend the issues of the WTO and globalisation of agriculture. Hence, they are not able to provide the adequate support, information and develop the necessary infrastructure for availing the opportunities within WTO framework.
Various agricultural support institutions are still inaccessible especially to the small and marginal farmers. There has been an inadequate linkage between research and farmers. Even there is limited attempt for the transfer of the technology and establishment of proper marketing linkages. Also, the delivery institutions and public extension system has been ineffective towards providing appropriate service to the farmers.
Current practise of the subsidies is not adequately addressing the target group, instead the benefit has been siphoned away by the big farmers.
Even though Orissa has rich natural resources base and possesses 10 agro-climatic zones, there is no institution acting as a think tank and developing a master plan for the growth of the agriculture sector. Even there is an absence of vibrant farmers lobby group, with weak political and societal will for the growth of the agriculture sector in the state.
There is a major lapse in the government procurement policy, due to which few states such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and others have been largely benefited. Their products are been sold through the retail Public Distribution System (PDS) shop in other states and even in Orissa. Contrarily, Orissa has been used as a market for their products and state own production is facing distressed sale, with small and marginal farmers falling into the debt trap and their food security at risk. For instance, the majority of fish is supplied by Andhra Pradesh, onions by Maharashtra, potatoes by West Bengal and rice from Punjab.
Due to high production cost and low productivity, Orissa does not have competitive advantage. Even consciousness of quality and standard product is very low, with very less focus on organic farming and diversification of crops.
Decline in public investments particularly in infrastructure development – irrigation, post harvest value addition technology and marketing.
Due to the long marketing chain and absence of price monitoring and implementing agency, farmers are unable to get the minimum support price and in some cases input cost of the products.
Panel Discussion on T&C
Panellist – Souribandhu Kar, General Secretary, AITUC.
Highlights of the Discussion
Textile mills in Orissa are facing high incidence of industrial sickness. Major reasons for the sickness are less production of raw material to be consumed in textile mills, less textile production compared to employment involved in the productive capacity units, the heavy net accumulated loss and statutory payment liabilities of employees (EPF and ESI dues), electricity dues and other loans.
Orissa Textile Mills (OTMs) started operating in the year 1950 under private management. However, from the year 1975-76 onwards, the company started incurring losses and continued in loss till 1980-81. In 1983, the company was nationalised and Government of Orissa acquired the shares from the private promoters at a fixed price. However, due to nationalisation of the unit, it could not avail the benefits of automatic restructuring of liabilities and as such the unit continued to remain saddled with the burden of huge pre-takeover liability.
Various rehabilitation schemes were worked out for the renovation of the OTMs. However, due to the delay in decision making process and inadequate allocation of resources towards technological enhancement and modernisation of the plant and machinery speedy revival of the OTMs could not be accomplished. In addition, absence of political will and proper government policy for the revival of the textile sector are further contributing to the slow death of the textile sector in Orissa.
Lastly, Shri Jagadananda summed up the discussion, by highlighting certain points with reference to GRANITE project-
- Unravel several myths and objectively analyse the positive and negative consequences of the WTO and globalisation process in context of Orissa.
- We need to analyse the trend of subsidies assistance in Orissa i.e. who is using, how much and what are the issues?
- Need to build the information agenda and its dissemination strategy, along with unbundling of various issues.
- Create a conducive environment to avail opportunities and resist threats with better preparedness.
- Proper attention and adequate measures have to be adopted to resolve the structural issues and increase in access of market and diversification of crops.
- Provide analytical framework to carry out negotiation at various levels.
- Build informed public pressure with larger involvement of the grassroots.
- Highlight the state-specific strengths, along with drawing out the framework for development of organic farming in the state.
- Increase in credit outlay with focus on small and marginal farmers.