03 December 2007

Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture under fire

India's Centre for Sustainable Agriculture has released an open letter to the Indian Prime Minister "expressing concerns on the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA) ."

The signatories to the letter argue that the "KIA does not seem to have any benefits for farmers but only negative implications", that the "IPR implications from the deal are stacked against Indian interests." They call for the Prime Minister to:
  • Put the implementation of the KIA on hold immediately;
  • Draw up a fresh research agenda for the Indian NARS;
  • Provide income security to all farmers in the country;
  • Allocate all the funds meant for agriculture extension in the hands of the targeted clientele
  • Allow immediate access to indigenous germplasm collections to communities who wish to access such resources for conservation and use.
Among the comments in the letter:

"It is not clear why we need to learn from the USA on water management, drought proofing, food processing etc., when some of the best models on these themes are right here in the country within the people’s knowledge domain."

"The [Indian] NARS do not recognize any other knowledge domain other than what gets classified officially as “scientific”. It is this blind approach that had resulted in the erosion of precious knowledge and natural resources amongst farming communities in India. The largest knowledge bank is with the smallholding farmers of India which consists of knowledge of centuries of experiential learning. ... Such ready knowledge is constantly being discounted and actively eroded by the NARS in a variety of ways."

"It is also important to re-cast completely the reward and incentive system that drives the agriculture scientists today. It is not publication of papers or number of patents that should be the driving parameters of assessing the fulfillment of the mandate of NARS. It is possible for knowledge flows to occur in a manner that farmers derive benefits, without going through the formal, expensive, discriminatory and exclusive intellectual property regime – this has been the experience of civil society work time and again. Agriculture scientists’ reward system should be linked to the quality and effective time spent with farming communities in drawing the research agenda from the farmers, by developing technologies in a participatory manner and by using an interdisciplinary and “expert & non-expert co-inquiry” approach."

The full letter is available here in html format.


Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home