01 January 2010

Whirlwind Tour of Odisha

A very happy new year to you all. I have just returned from a whirlwind tour of Odisha. The initial purpose was to attend the Indian Economic Association 92nd annual conference held at Bhubaneswar and perhaps combine it with a meeting of friends from School after 25 years. The latter could not materialize. Thus, I combined my visit with some other work and made a whirlwind tour of rural Odisha.

I visited places in Banki (one flood prone village where I had a two-hour discussion with villagers), Nayagarh (two farmer field school groups (FFSGs) - one in their field one in their village, two civil society groups that facilitate formation of FFSGs and Selh-help Groups (SHGs) and additional livelihood activities, and one farm house), and Puri (a cluster of two-three villages in and around Birapurusottampur, which happens to be my native village) and also had discussions with various stakeholders. It will not be appropriate for me to reveal the contents of my discussion now, but it does reiterate the grim agrarian scenario in Orissa. The macro observations indicated earlier in Poverty and Agrarian Distress in Orissa (nay, Odisha) is more or less substantiated by these field visits.

A disturbing picture that one observed during this visits is reportage of farmers' suicides by the media almost every day. I did disucss this with many and the responses were familiar as these are similar to the ones that one came across when I was starting the study on Suicide of Farmers in Maharashtra. People have to get out of the denial mode (that this is just a media hype) and the least that they can do is to stop blaming the farmers for this. The media can have a look at the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on suicide reportage. This is a symptom of the larger Agrarian Crisis in India, elaborately discussed in the book edited by D. Narasimha Reddy and me and published by the Oxford University Press. There is need for technological and institutional innovations that reduce costs and improve returns.

No comments:

Post a Comment