Grassroots Reachout & Networking in India on Trade & Economics (GRANITE)
Uttar Pradesh State Level Project Launch Meeting
Lucknow, May 21, 2005
NEED (Network for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development) has been entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the GRANITE project in the state of Uttar Pradesh as one of its partners. The project was formally launched by holding a daylong event at Hotel Sagar International, Lucknow on May 21, 2005. The Inaugural Session started with lighting of lamp by Chief Guest G B Patnayak, Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Government of UP, Dr T N Dhar, renowned planning and economics expert, members of SRG, R K Sharma, GRANITE Country Project Manager, CUTS, Jaipur, the producer groups and farmers from rural regions and other dignitaries. Thereafter, a rural women group associated with NEED sang a devotional prayer.
The objective of the meeting was to formally launch GRANITE project in Uttar Pradesh. It also aimed at bringing all the relevant stakeholders to a common platform, to discuss the opportunities and challenges in the sectors of agriculture and textiles with reference to Uttar Pradesh.
Key addresses in the inaugural session
Anil Singh, Chief Executive, NEED
- Presented the overview of the project – its genesis, objectives, activities, goals and the expected outcome. In the action roadmap approach carved out, he mentioned reachout meetings that would involve people at the grassroots and other key stakeholders. These would be held in five (5) regions of UP, viz., eastern, central I and II, western and Bundelkhand.
- Stressed upon the need for setting-up of a WTO cell in the state. This was stated in the light of the state’s contribution to trade and dependency of a large section of the population on it for livelihood. Such a cell would also help disseminate information relating to WTO, its Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), etc. to all stakeholders. Media’s role in demystifying WTO related myths were also discussed. For a similar purpose it was stated that an action-learning manual in Hindi would be developed.
- Importance of State Trade Policy Council (STPC) was highlighted. Its objective would be to direct and monitor trade practices in the State.
G B Patnayak, Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Government of UP
- Presented an overview of the state’s agriculture scenario.
- Concurred with Anil Singh’s ideas of setting-up a WTO cell and STPC. Herein he emphasised upon the need for greater involvement of non-government organisations (NGOs).
Dr T N Dhar, renowned Planning and Economics Expert
- Stated that globalisation is not a recent phenomenon but started centuries ago. Expressed concern over India’s declining share in world trade.
- Suggested certain steps of improvement to be taken up by India. Some of them were duty-reduction, technology-upgradation, product patenting, greater micro-credit, contract farming and greater involvement of NGOs.
Highlights of the panel discussion on Agriculture sector
Moderator: Nirankar Singh, Senior Journalist
Panellists: Prof. Yashveer Tyagi, Department of Economics, Lucknow University, Prof. R P Singh, Head of Economics, IIM Lucknow, Dr. Seema Javed, Senior Correspondent, Dainik Jagaran, Dr R N Pandey, Assistant Director, UPCAR and some producer and farmers group from Sitapur and Kakori villages.
- SWOT analysis of the sector should be undertaken with focus on its strengths and opportunities.
- Farmers should produce crops taking into account the diversity of the agro-climatic conditions in the state. Concern was raised over the fact that despite being traditionally endowed with a wide variety of crops, the farmers are cultivating only a few crops like wheat, sugarcane, rice etc.
- The state contributes to 8 percent of the world’s total basmati export. Likewise, the farmers need to be oriented towards products that have greater export potential such as masur dal, mango, etc.
- Certain factors that could contribute to increased production were identified. These included technology upgradation, better infrastructural support, price indexing, promoting organic farming, manuring and dairying, promoting floriculture, subsidising power, providing micro-finance/credit, abolishing subsidies allowed under green/blue/amber boxes, greater institutional support, setting-up regulated and closely monitored markets and, lastly, promoting awareness among farmers on organic farming, WTO, AoA, trade, etc.
- Special focus was laid on involving farmers and village groups particularly the SHGs in trade practices concerning their own agricultural produce. However, for this the farmers need to be well informed about WTO norms and government policies on trade. This further necessitates the need to undertake capacity building of farmers on the related issues.
Highlights of the panel discussion on T&C sector
Moderator: Nirankar Singh, Senior Journalist
Panellists: S B Agarwal, Secretary General, ASOCHAM UP, C B Singh, Assistant Director, Commissioner of Handicraft, Government of India, Runa Banerjee, Director, SEVA Lucknow, Abhijit Ray, Manager, SIDBI, Lucknow, Dr R M Lal, Head of Department, Communication, Jaipuria Institute of Management and women SHG members from Sitapur and Kakori
- Marketing of the final produce was identified as the biggest problem being faced by the sector. It was suggested that alongwith government, other organisations such as chambers of commerce, business houses, etc, should intervene and render services of processing, classifying, packaging, marketing, etc. Also, exclusive women marketing centers should be set up. A ‘Lucknow Haat’ on the lines of ‘Delhi Haat’ was proposed to promote the local market of handicrafts and handloom.
- It was stated that adequate skilled labour is available in the country. However, its entrepreneurial abilities need to be upgraded for it to compete in the international market.
- Certain factors that could strengthen and empower the sector were identified. These included better credit facilities to artisans, providing subsidised raw material, organising fair trade campaigns, generating consumer awareness on crafts and eco-friendly products, involving producer groups in formulating trade policies, ensuring Government Procurement for textiles based products, certifying crafts products, undertaking product design, skill upgradation and training for the artisans.