Uttar Pradesh Third Outreach Meeting with
Farmers and other Producer Groups
Mangraur, Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, September 30, 2005
Total persons attended the outreach meeting – 250
The signatures collected from the rural communities for GRANITE UP document – 225
In our endeavour to reachout to the masses in the villages and gather information related to their day-to-day problems, faced by them in their economic activities, the GRANITE-UP team organised a one-day outreach meeting at Mangraur (Pratapgarh) in partnership with a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) called as Divya Jyoti Seva Niketan (DJSN) on September 30, 2005.
NEED is the CUTS partner in the implementation of the GRANITE project in the state of Uttar Pradesh. DJSN is a grassroots NGO in Pratapgarh and has been associated with NEED for quite sometime. It works on diverse socio-economic issues. As the socio-economic environment of Pratapgarh is quite different to the central region, where the previous two-outreach meetings were organised, it was decided to hold the third meeting in Pratapgarh to get a holistic picture of the state.
The meeting was held at the block office in Mangraur. Many farmers and other producer groups, artisans, cultivators, peasants, self-help groups (SHGs), clusters, associations, panchayat (village council) members, craft persons, women producer groups and many other stakeholders including local media of Mangaraur Block of Pratapgarh district attended the meeting. In this meeting, more than 60 percent of the participants were women. The meeting began with the inaugural remarks of Asha Singh, Secretary, DJSN. Subsequently, D Pandey, President, Bhartiya Sanskriti Raksha Samiti (BSRS), Suryagarh-Pratapgarh, R S Verma, President, Dhanwantari Sewa Sansthan, Sultanpur, N Ansari, Chief Functionary of a local NGO, SJ B Singh, AIR-Pratapgarh addressed the gathering. The Joint Block Development Officer (JBDO) of Mangaraur, M P Pandey was the Chief Guest at the meeting. After the chief guest’s address and a description of the GRANITE by Subodh Singh and Shanu Somvanshi, Development Managers, NEED, an interactive session was held where the participants shared the problems and complexities countenance in economic activity.
Background of the participants
Most of the farmers in the area can be categorised as marginal farmers. There is a wide contradiction in the condition of the rich and the poor. Around 30 percent of the land in Pratapgarh district is sandy and barren. Even then, Pratapgarh is bestowed with a variety of crops. Due to high Ph scale, the crops produced are Amla, Bel, Babul, Mahua, sain, vegetables and spices (turmeric, red chilly, etc.).
Similar to other rural areas, the farmers are neglected on many fronts. Majority of the local community condition is getting worse due to outdated knowledge and skills in marketing, infrastructure facilities and corporate and middlemen alliance.
The objective of the meeting was to bring farmers and other producer groups on to a common platform, to discuss the opportunities and challenges in agriculture and to share and learn information and opinions with reference to their livelihood. Besides, after having gathered grassroot driven information and statements, the outreach meeting also enables to place the documents before the heads of the State Government for their active consideration, and thereby facilitate the process for establishing State Trade Promotion Council (STPC).
Highlights of the Discussion
The Session was started by sharing the objectives of the meeting by Asha Singh, Secretary, DJSN.
D Pandey, BSRS, Pratapgarh talked about the core problem, which related to the farmers’ opposition and non-adaptability to government polices, and modern techniques. He encouraged them to get aware of beneficial schemes and also presented several instances clearly indicating farmers’ apathy, where farmers’ non-contribution lead to the collapse of the plan.
M Pandey, JBDO of Mangaraur block motivated the gathering to take initiative in improving their economic condition by developing technical skills.
C L Srivastava, GSS, Sultanpur, J B Singh, R S Verma and Ansari discussed about the various government schemes through which the farmers can improve the marketing of their product.
Subodh Singh and Shanu Somvanshi, Development Managers, NEED explained in detail, the GRANITE project and its objectives. They urged the participants to inform about their problems on an open platform. After this, an interactive session was held whose main concern was to list down and enquire the difficulties and expectations faced by marginalised farmers in agriculture and agri-allied activities related to seed, infrastructure, processing unit, indigenous produce and technical skills, market access.
It is against this background that NEED set out to organise the grassroot outreach meeting, inviting farmers, producer groups and others, to listen, understand and share the existing pro-poor issues, challenges and concern with respect to the prime nature of trade and economics-related problems.
Main Issues Discussed in the Meeting
- Farmers are lagging behind in marketing, value-addition and export of crops.
- Lack of infrastructure-cold storages, preserving techniques and unavoidable middlemen’s role.
- Animals scuttle into the field.
- Farmers decide maximum retail price (MRP).
- Expensive and complex procedure to set up food processing units.
- Lack of transportation facility and corporate middlemen alliance forcing the farmers to sell crop at minimal rate.
- Rich farmers take marginal farmers’ land on lease so there is a need to provide entrepreneurial and technical training to the farmers in the area.
- Organisations in micro-enterprises (like morraba, sweets and candies, pickles etc) are dynamic and require export and marketing guidance.
- Lack of effective irrigation facility, electricity, roads, telecommunication, mandi and other government facilities. This is a big obstacle in the development of agriculture and upliftment of farmers in the area. There is a great demand for setting up cold storages specifically for Amla so that the farmers can attain higher prices for their production