Coping with Complexity. Mapping Sustainable Agriculture in Orissa using the RTD Framework

Posted In:    Bhubneshwar    India    IFAD    KICS    Forum    Dialogue    Krishi Vigyan Kendras    CWS    ILAC    Institutional Learning and Change    Orissa State Agricultural Marketing Board    OSSCA    OUAT    Paschim Orissa Krishijeevi Sangh    POKS    Science and Technology Studies    STS    EU    APICOL    NAIP    KVK    Actor Linkage Matrix    ALM    IMAGE    Central Rice Research Institute    workshop. XIMB    English    Print Media    Environment    Governance    Health    Orissa    2008   

This study, a product of collective inquiry started with the workshop in 2008 at XIMB that initiated the idea of using the RTD framework in the context of debates on the agricultural policy of the Government of Orissa and the preparation of the report on the lives of the people of Orissa.

The new State Agricultural Policy (SAP) in Orissa (Government of Orissa [GoO] 2008) had rightly focused the attention of policy makers, civil society organizations, farmers, research institutes and the private sector on agriculture. The importance of agriculture in a state like Orissa had reiterated some of the standard figures on the contribution of agriculture to livelihoods and the state domestic product. Agriculture in Orissa can be seen through several lenses. The most typical are those of productivity, yields, technology absorption, and percentage of irrigation, levels of farm mechanization, use of improved seeds, fertilizer and pesticides.

Amongst the plethora of approaches on policymaking, a framework that explicitly recognizes the need to engage with research agencies and that too in a democratic and consultative manner is Research and Technology for Development or RTD for short. This framework was first developed in the national context and by researchers from the European Union for the ACP or Africa Carribean and Pacific nations (Bijker et al. 2000, 2001). Meant as a framework to enable national planning for science and technology, this had since been applied to a few nations. However the application of this framework to the Indian context and at the sub-national level in a particular sector was completely new.

The RTD is thus a tool for strengthening the democratic procedure of policy making. Through the process of policy dialogue it gives voice and rights to people. The guideline ensures an inclusive process, which can lead to higher goals of making agriculture more sustainable, profitable and beneficial for marginal farmers, for instance, if marginal farmers are seen as relevant social groups in the policy dialogue. Thus, RTD as a framework or toolbox had been developed, with an ‘objective to provide methodological guidelines that will strengthen the scientific quality of the process that leads towards formulation of Science & Technology (S&T) policies.’

The state of Orissa is known for physical diversities with multiplicity of rice cultivation. Orissa is the secondary origin of rice (Jeypore tract) and farmers of Orissa still produce and consume fine quality aromatic rice despite the lack of proper procurement and marketing for these. The state produces export quality turmeric and ginger that are cultivated in Koraput and Phulbani. Orissa has a considerable pool of rice, mango and brinjal germ plasm. The tea produced in Keonjhar is considered top quality in Asia. The potential of organic farming in the state is high given the low consumption of fertilizers and there are attempts to convert Phulbani district into an “Organic District”.

Some of the important schemes aided by the Government of India are the Integrated Cereals Development Programme (Rice), National Pulse Development Programme (NPDP), Oilseed Production Programme (OPP), Special Jute Development Programme (SJDP), and the Intensive Cotton Development Programme (ICDP, Cotton).

These are basically crop-oriented schemes with the main objective of increasing production and productivity through better input supply, extension support and infrastructural facilities. Supply of inputs at subsidized rates, a seed village programme for production of certified seeds, laying of block demonstration, distribution of mini kits to popularize new varieties, and farm mechanization are some of novel features of these schemes. Apart from these the state had been reasonably pro-active in accessing funds from two new schemes – the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).

The Western Orissa Rural Livelihood Project (WORLP) was implemented in the districts of Bolangir, Nuapada, Baragarh and Kalahandi with assistance of Rs.2292 millions from the Department of International Development (DFID), UK. The project will continue for 10 years from 2008 and will benefit t the poorest people. The activities of the project mainly relate to livelihood initiation, drinking water, sanitation and capacity-building. Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihood Programme (OTELP) Funded by International Fund for Agriculture Development, IFAD and DFID, the programme would cover 30 of the most backward blocks with tribal concentrations in seven districts, namely Gajapati, Kalahandi, Kandhamal, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nawarangpur, and Rayagada in South-West Orissa. It will be implemented in three phases over 10 years and focuses on empowering tribals and enabling them to enhance their food security, increase their incomes and improve their overall quality of life through more efficient natural resource management based on the principles of improved watershed management and more productive, with environmentally sound agricultural practices, and through off-farm/non-farm enterprise development.

This report is a diagnostic study on science and technology in agriculture in Orissa. With the contents of the policy already framed, the aim was to study the process of policy formulation and to study the policy landscape. The concerns on mapping policy landscapes is not new and had been attempted by others as well, notably the RAPID team (Research and Policy in International Development) supported by the Overseas Development Institute, UK. It is recognized that substantial improvement in the use of research-based evidence in development policy and practice also requires effort at the institutional level. This leads to improvement in organizational structures, processes, resources, and management and governance issues (Young 2008). It is assumed that for an effective RTD policy the active participation of all relevant institutions is crucial, and that this participation should be organized in such a way that these institutions may influence the very content of the policy.

Knowledge in Civil Society (KICS) forum and the Centre for World Solidarity (CWS) graciously provided initial funding support for the mapping study. XIMB had been very supportive not only in hosting the workshops but for providing a conducive academic atmosphere that enabled this study.

NC had edited and designed the project.

Website - XIMB
Document - Coping with Complexity