The people's vision: UK and Indian reflections on Prajateerpu (PLA 58)
Guest editors: Tom Wakeford and Jasber Singh. In 2001 a group of smallholder farmers met in Andhra Pradesh to take part in a modified citizens’ jury. Known as Prajateerpu (Telegu meaning ‘people’s verdict’), the participation process explored three broad scenarios for the future of farming in the region. It assessed the potential of genetically modified (GM) crops. A four-day hearing process allowed a jury of 19 – mostly Dalit or indigenous farmers – to cross-question 13 witnesses, which included representatives of biotechnology companies, state government officials and development experts.
The jurors concluded that genetically modified crops would have little foreseeable impact on reducing malnutrition. They expressed concerns about the impact on smallholders of a reliance on artificial fertilisers and pesticides. They called instead for local self-sufficiency and endogenous development in farming and food. Their recommendations have generated widespread interest in India and beyond. We conclude with some lessons learnt about participatory processes being undertaken on controversial topics of concern to groups who have not traditionally had a voice in decisions.
Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international board.