Grassroots Reachout & Networking in India on Trade & Economics (GRANITE)
Uttar Pradesh Seventh Outreach Meeting
Lucknow District, Uttar Pradesh
June 19, 2006
The project partner of GRANITE in Uttar Pradesh, Network of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (NEED) and the GRANITE team, organised a daylong outreach meeting in association with Indian National Consumers Federation,(INCF) Lucknow, at Gohanakala, Bakshi ka Talab, Lucknow district on June 19, 2006.
The objective of the meeting was to bring farmers and other producer groups to a common platform, to discuss the opportunities and challenges in agriculture and to share and to be apprised of information and opinions with reference to their livelihood. Besides, after having gathered information and views from the grassroots, the meeting also enabled to place the documents before the State Government for its active consideration.
Methodology of the Outreach Meeting
The meeting was attended by grassroots level marginal farmers, craft persons, artisans, weavers and local handicrafts producers, labourers/workers of a local sugar mill and organic disposable utensils makers as well as local media, other NGO, government functionaries and other concerned stakeholders like panchayat members, block pramukhs and self-help groups (SHGs). About 60 percent were women.
The meeting began with the inaugural remarks of Abhishek, Secretary-General, INCF. Badlu, local in-charge of Farmers’ Union, Jai Singh, Pradhan, and two experts Mukesh Rawat, Agricultural Expert, Dharmendra Singh, Small Scale Industry Expert, Smita Mishra, Development Manager, GRANITE also addressed the gathering. This was followed by an interaction with the resource members.
Most of the farmers are from backward social sections and many can be categorised as marginal farmers and other producer groups. There is a big gap and variation in the condition of small and big farmers and other producer groups. Even after huge production of cash crops, the socio-economic conditions of the farmers and other producer groups has not improved. A large number of women of the area are engaged in agriculture, Chikancraft, Zardozi, basket making, etc. This occupation is also facing problems. The women are exploited by the mediators, who bring them work from the adjoining cities of Lucknow.
The major produce in agriculture is wheat, rice, vegetables, etc and both rabi and kharif cropping is prevalent. Due to lack of capital and marketing avenues they are forced to sell their produce to middlemen.
The basic problem is high cost of inputs and lack of knowledge and skills in marketing, infrastructure and middlemen alliance. Additionally, their engagement with the policy framework of the state government, particularly through their existing community based organisations (CBDO) such as SHGs, panchayati raj institutions (PRIs), clusters, village school teachers, farmers and other producer groups, schools and many more are completely left out. The WTO agreements and advantages and disadvantages arising out of it, particularly in agriculture and textile sector, have completely been kept away from such rural communities.
Highlights of the Discussions
- Abhishek shared the relevant and implemented Government schemes.
- Smita discussed the objectives and role of GRANITE, working pattern of NEED and about women empowerment.
- Badlu discussed the various problems faced by the farmers in their day to day life viz. water scarcity, price hike of diesel, problem to get loan and insurance, pesticide awareness, use of seeds and fertilizers for better farming pattern.
- Jai Singh discussed the ways to reach out for government support.
- Mukesh Rawat discussed problems related to ill effects of pesticides and chemicals and benefits of organic farming.
- Dharmendra Singh introduced various ways to make pickles, papads dalmoth etc. to those women who wished to engage in self-employment.
Agricultural and Local Problems
- There is a big shortage of marketing yards, warehouses, cold storages, rural roads and telecommunications. The Government of India’s initiative in setting up of the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) under National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to facilitate development of infrastructure in rural areas was a welcome step. However, it has failed to make any significant impact so far in improving the state of rural infrastructure.
- Roads are in a very poor condition, the villages are not properly connected to the nearby block or highways.
- Electricity is inadequate and irregular in supply.
- Transport facilities are meagre.
- Banks are not lending to the needy, more so they are charging money for every loan sanctioned.
- Lack of insurance and other safety nets.
- Transport facilities for various product movement.
- Information technology is still lagging behind.
- Storage facilities are very improper.
- Marketing centres are unreachable to the poor farmers.
- Women’s haats need to be developed.
- Soil cum seed and other testing technology centres are missing.
- Value-added skill up gradation in textiles was called for.
- Promoting entrepreneurship inputs.
- Linkages with fair trade buyers and other market forces directly from the producer groups at local, regional, national and global level.
Summary of the Suggestions
- SHGs to be formed to support themselves.
- Functional education fitting into their daily life practice may eradicate bottlenecks.
- Awareness for direct penetration to the market by the farmers.
- Women must be involved in some small-scale works to support livelihood.
- Collective farming to maximise the productivity should be introduced.
- Reforms to be introduced in agriculture marketing.
Group of farmers be formed to raise their voice up to the officials.
A total number of 160 participants attended the workshop, out of which 150 appended their signatures on the Uttar Pradesh document under the project.