“Climate Changes Cities- recycle waste, grow food, save water”

- KICS Sharing Session on Urban Agriculture in Mumbai 8th August 2008

Ajay Nayak Managing editor, Indian Architect & Builder Magazine moderated the programme. Opening remarks Audio
Snehalata Shrikhande shared her experience of doing Urban Agriculture and composting. She explained how we can use of waste in the house, and convert it to food in the urban situation. She also highlighted the therapeutic and educational aspects of this activity in the city context. Full Audio with Slides

Bharat Mansata who recently wrote a book “Organic Revolution” highlighted how Cuba after the collapse of the Soviet Union, were short of food, and how every little space in the city, was used to grow food, and that too without the use of chemical inputs which had been blockaded. More importantly, he stressed how urban communities shared the food grown, with urban poor. Full Audio with Slides

Preeti Patil made a presentation of her effort on terrace garden at Mumbai Port Trust with the employees of the central kitchen. She shared some of her learnings on issues like pests, compaction of soil, her efforts at getting street children from the neighbourhood involved. Full Audio with Slides

Valerie Fernando, an intern from RITIMO at CED made a presentation on permeable pavers. She highlighted how societies in Mumbai were paving their compounds and reducing the seepage of storm water into the ground, forcing the water down to low lying areas causing flooding. She also spoke of how this water could be harvested. Full Text, Audio & Slides
IN the discussion, participants shared some details about how to compost, deal with pests’ etc.
Participants felt that despite workshops on urban agriculture and a mailing list, the practice of Urban Agriculture has not become popular. They suggested having a sub-group in KICS on Urban Agriculture where we meet more regularly. In this connection, they suggested a site visit to the Urban Garden at Mumbai Port Trust. Some others felt that we could have a short three-hour workshop to share techniques of dealing with pests, as well as composting in small scale at home - perhaps in October or November. They also suggested a visit to Van-Vani, Karjat
A professor of architecture said that the conventional studies and curriculum of present day architecture does not include such innovations and practical ideas. She felt that she could now include it, and draws on the resources of practitioners for this.

Closing Comments by the Chair.
Walter Mendoza : On KICS.


Preparatory Paper
Times of India article

A Sharing Session on

Interrogating the Knowledge Dimensions of NREGA and Understanding its Predecessors in Social Security Net


by Ramasubramaniam of Samanvaya

Date: July 1, 2008


NREGA or the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is an example of an Act that has become a policy following pressure from civil society groups, peoples movements in particular. The government today sees this as one of its flagship programmes and it has been adopted with much fanfare and since April 2008 has been extended to all the districts of the country. The scheme has been widely welcomed largely due to a high emphasis on the transparency in its operation, it has gained more media space than any other rural development programme in recent times. While the programmatic aspects of this scheme have been widely discussed, there has not been much discussion on the concept itself.  Does it convert all work to wage labour? How has it affected traditional non-farm occupations?

What has been the impact of NREGA on the existing social security nets in traditional communities that have addressed life cycle issues. In many areas these have been studied and documented. However, the NREGA does not seem to build on such knowledge. The rural labour is not necessarily manual labour. While urban labour is divided into knowledge services and manual labour and values have been placed on each of these, this scheme reduced all labour to that of manual labour in rural areas, any availability of knowledge and skill apart from manual labour is not recognized. The role of 'expert' too is defined based on the government departments rather than availability of skills in the village. Has the guarantee of minimum labour and earning even without labour created labour shortage in village based activities such as agriculture? Has NREGA unwittingly made all labour and work uni-directional manual labour oriented rural masses thereby serving as supply to urban contractors?


Ramasubramaniam of Samanvaya (www.samanvaya.net ) explains a study (

'Interrogating the Knowledege Dimensions of NREGA' ) that he proposes to undertake on some of the knowledge foundations of the Act itself. The study would like to explore if traditional models exist that could be strengthened and that could provide insights that can even fundamentally change the nature and scope of such a scheme. The presentation will be followed by discussions, reflections and suggestions from participants on the study including possibilities of collaboration. (This study by Samanvaya has been supported by KICS and CWS.)

Click here to download the Document on this study(Type: pdf; Size: 682K)






Knowledge Intensive Agriculture: Experiences and Insights from Civil Society

By C. Shambu Prasad and others
Date: 24 April, 2008


Agriculture is very much in the news with several national and international events on how to bring agriculture back into the development agenda. If it was the union budget earlier, now it is the world food crisis. This increased focus on agriculture at the backdrop of a prolonged farming crisis in India and dynamic changes in the agricultural system has led to several prescriptions on how to get the ‘Hindu rate’ of agricultural growth catch up with the exciting growth in an increasingly services led Indian economy. The prescriptions are largely in terms of increased investment (for ICAR) and ways out of ‘technological fatigue’ through calls for ‘second’ and ‘ever green revolutions’. Civil society groups and dissenting researchers have on the other hand been arguing for a paradigm change in agriculture from the tried, tired and costly input-centred green revolution package in favoured (irrigated) areas based primarily on germplasm improvement or genetic modification. Experiences from many agricultural fields indicate a promising and emerging paradigm of Knowledge Intensive Agriculture that surprisingly provides good returns for the farmer even as it improves the ecological base of farming.

The sharing session, a work in progress, is based on discussions that one of the KICS members had during a recent visit to Cali, Colombia for a workshop on ‘Rethinking Impact: Capturing the Complexity of Change’ www.prgaprogram.org/riw . The workshop had a joint presentation on ‘learning alliances’ by a few KICS members where an attempt was made to try and draw some principles for an agriculture of the future based on the phenomenal spread of Non Pesticidal Management in Andhra Pradesh and the complex and messy spread of SRI (System of Rice Intensification) in many parts of India.

The workshop was followed by a new initiative of the Institutional Learning And Change initiative (www.cgiar-ilac.org ) called the Learning Laboratory where a suggestion for ‘Knowledge Intensive Agricultural Systems in India’ was proposed as a learning laboratory case.

Shambu Prasad, leading this presentation,  reflecting on the workshop and presenting possibilities for the Learning Laboratory that seeks to include some civil society groups and donors. This will be followed by discussions and brief presentations by Vinod Goud (and if available Biswanath Sinha of SDTT) on WWF’s intervention on SRI.

The sharing session is intended to explore how some of the thoughts around Knowledge Intensive Agriculture could be collectively pursued with a view to drawing possible contours of this newer paradigm based on principles and insights from the field. Some of the ideas of the learning laboratory include hosting a symposium ‘Agricultural Sciences: Beyond NPK’.

Click here to download the  Presentation(Type:Power point;  Size: 4.1Mb)


Responsible Rural Tourism

Report of the Meeting:

Another edition of KICS meeting on 7th February 2008 at CWS conference hall, introduced participants to a new initiative put forward by a team of two young entrepreneurs, Mr. Inir Pinherio and Mr. Abhijeet representing Grassroutes, an organisation promoting “responsible rural tourism”.

The presentation brought out the potential of rural tourism (tourists come to villages to experience rural environment and probably relax) and how this could be tapped with proper planning, while keeping up one’s own responsibility. The innovative enterprise involves local (trained) community, a local NGO and Grassroutes; the actual planning and executing agency with profits accruing to all involved in an equitable manner. The model is being tried out in two villages of Ahmednagar in Maharashtra.

Important elements of Responsible Rural Eco-tourism

1.The responsibilities related to tourism in the villages are supervised by the village tourism committee, with clear designated roles and responsibilities.
2.Performance is evaluated by the village tourism committee and Grassroutes.
3.Money accruing from this will add to the village economy and minimise the adverse steps like migration, adopted by community to fulfil livelihood requirements. In the two villages, where rural tourism is being promoted, tourism has emerged as the second major livelihood source after agriculture.
4.Gainful employment has also provided some youth to continue their education, with the money gained from tourism.
5. “Responsible rural tourism” while consciously attempts to minimise ill effects of other existing rural tourism (may harm culture, spread alcohol, littering of garbage- particularly plastic), it tries to ensure a safe tourism experience to tourists and local community. The involved in this are ensured equitable share to money earned.

The new attempt by the youngsters had several queries and participants were interested to know about:

1.Details of orientation provided to villagers.
2.Nature and role of village institutions involved with possible role of panchayats
3.Marketing approaches, any particular target group focused, for rural tourism and the cost to tourists.
4.How social and cultural shocks are minimised?
5.How equitability is ensured

An important question on what the objects of rural tourism could be and how objects of tourism can be created, was deemed important, requiring careful thinking before promoting and scaling up rural tourism. Possibility of village culture being better understood as one object of tourism was floated aloud in the meeting.

A few probing suggestions and dilemmas offered in the meeting were:
1.People’s (tourists) expectation differs, hence need for orienting people in these directions would be important.
2.Investment on understanding the knowledge and problem dimension of responsible rural tourism is necessary.
3.Village mechanisms can control implications of rural tourism to a large extent.
4.Role of NGOs must be clearly defined.
5.Ecological sustainability through rural/eco-tourism is a question

In conclusion; the innovative enterprise shows how new thoughts can have the potential of mutual benefit and if well planned and implemented it could be a profitable venture to all involved. The present initiative should invest more to have deeper appreciation on the social, cultural, ethical and environmental dimensions while understanding existing and potential problems to overcome. Overall, the initiative and efforts of Grassroutes was appreciable and deserved support to enrich the process while minimising the negative elements. A future presentation with greater experience clearing above dilemmas was hoped.

Nearly 30 participants (list enclosed) from civil society and educational institutions made the sharing experience worthwhile and a useful learning exercise.

L.V.Prasad, Joint Director, CWS, moderated the meeting (and has also authored this report), to which participants were welcomed by Sri.M.V.Sastri of CWS.

Encl: List of Participants

CC to:  Dr. Shambu Prasad.

CWS, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
Ms.N.Jhansi Rani
CWS, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
Mr.D.Srinivas Reddy
CWS, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
Mr.Ch. Venkateshwarlu
BODHI,CWS, Tarnaka Secunderabad
Mr.P.Kameswara Rao
CWS,  Tarnaka,Secunderabad
Mr.R.Subramanyam Naidu
WASSAN, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
WASSAN, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
CWS, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
CWS, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
CWS, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
BHUMI, Hyderabad
BHUMI, Hyderabad
Mr.M.Bhakthar Vali
WASSAN, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
WASSAN, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
CWS, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
BYRRAJU Foundation, Hyderabad
Mr.Rohan Sinha

Mr.P.Chandra Mohan
WASSAN, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
Mr.S.Narasimha Rao
WASSAN, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
CWS, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
Mr.Abhijeet P. Karthekar
Mr.Inir Pinheiro

BODHI,CWS, Tarnaka Secunderabad
BODHI,CWS, Tarnaka Secunderabad
Mr.R.V.Rama Mohan
CWS, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
CWS, Tarnaka, Secunderabad
Mr.R.Ravi Kumar
NDF,CWS, Tarnaka Secunderabad

WASSAN’s approach of ‘advocacy collaboration’. Session in Europe
policy building does not seem to follow direct, smooth and linear implementation patterns. Trajectories from policy formulation to implementation appear to be contingent, fuzzy, sometimes not rational, sometimes enmeshed with power relations and most of all messy.
Also, the issue of scale was addressed and discussed. The question was: what does scale does to the ‘good practices’, which the NGOs carried from the community level into the policymaking arena? We all agreed that processes of scale might change good practices. Ram proposed that continuous capacity building efforts (teaching, technology transfer) and reflexive forms of project monitored might be of high relevance for good translation efforts at scale. ‘Pressure politics’ (such as KICS as a movement!) would support the NGOs stand in such reflexive processes with the government.

*My reflection on scale*:

The scaling up of ‘good experiences/practices/knowledges’ in Civil Society seems to carry high relevance with regard to at least two issues: first, scale allows to share ‘good practices’ amongst a larger number of communities. Second, scale offers a basis for debates on what a ‘good practice’ is, as it creates numeric relevance for knowledges in Civil Society. ‘Good practices’ at scale also serve as a counter example to (probably risky) ‘mainstream’ forms of doing.
Nevertheless, any traveling technology or practice does change within the respective processes of implementation. Here, the pathway of implementation, which might appear clear, logic and predetermined from a theoretical perspective, becomes enmeshed with contingencies, people’s strategies, and power struggles. Ultimately, knowledge and practice changes at scale. The emerging questions for me are:
--What does scale do to knowledge in Civil Society? Which parts of a ‘good practice’ are able to travel without much deformation, which elements are changing in this process, which items are not traveling at all?
--What is the relevance of the element of power in scaling exercises between Civil Society and the state? Would experiences at scale be different if Civil Society’s voice would be more powerful? KICS?

Quartz J (TSS)

Contributed by Julia Quartz

by Ramachandrudu, WASSAN