Accepted paper:

Disseminating seeds and 'transforming' the society: understanding knowledge and power hierarchies among South Indian farmers


Suhas Ramesh Bhasme (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bengaluru)

Paper short abstract:

Based on fieldwork in South Indian villages, the paper demonstrates the way use of hybrid seeds is 'transforming' farmers' society by breaking down the traditional knowledge system. On another hand use of hybrid seeds is maintaining the existing social and economic hierarchies among the farmers.

Paper long abstract:

The paper argues that the development aid in the form of subsidised hybrid seeds of rice distributed by the agricultural extension service providers not only diminishes the traditional knowledge system but also affects the traditional community practices around the seeds among the farmers. However, the new relationship constructed among the farmers around the use of hybrid seeds not necessarily break down the existing social and economic hierarchy among the farmers. Rather we find that capital and knowledge required for the use of hybrid seeds reinforces the existing social and economic hierarchies among the farmers. In this way, hybrid seeds are 'transforming' society on the one hand and also strengthening existing hierarchies among the farmers. The study based on fieldwork carried out in the villages of South India in Mandya district in Karnataka. I used a qualitative approach to understand the way development aid objects such as hybrid seeds shape the relationship among the farmers in the region.

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