Local knowledge, the right to food and sustainability in India

Jagjit Plahe

India is facing an agrarian crisis. Since 1995, over three hundred thousand farmers have taken their own lives primarily due to policies which have gone wrong and the short sightedness of policy makers. Not only has the Green Revolution left farmers reeling with debt and struggling with declining yields, it has been very detrimental to the environment in which they live. Farmers across India are now being squeezed between the Green and Gene Revolutions as the union state is fixated on technological “solutions” to the crisis, such as the introduction of Genetically Modified crops. As a response to this crisis, certain communities and indeed states have embraced an agro-ecological approach to farming. These approaches which are based on local knowledge and environmentally sustainable systems, have allowed many thousands of farmers to realise the right to food. In this paper, following on from previous work I have done in the area, I look at different models of agroecology in India: state led, community led (with assistance from local NGOs) and state supported.




The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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