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The Question of Social Design of 'Who-Whom' in Technology Implementation

Dinesh Abrol (NISTADS)

 

Abstract

This paper describes the social shaping requirements of technology transformation involving a strategy of institutional transformation of the systems of technology implementation in agriculture and allied sectors for the benefit of weaker sections in India. It argues that the innovation system approach guided by the pursuit of competitive advantage where the emerging institutional arrangements sidestep the goals of social equity and ecological security is unlikely to achieve a favorable environment for the weaker sections oriented institutional transformation of innovation systems in India. It analyses the weaker sections oriented requirements of social shaping that are also consistent with the long-term goals of agriculture and allied sectors in India. It abstracts from the technological and innovation system design practices of the examples of social experiments designed by some of the people oriented S&T voluntary agencies. It employs the lessons drawn from the examples of work undertaken under these social experiments in respect of technology implementation and R&D to deal with the question of ‘who-whom’ in oilseeds processing, pulse processing, fruits and vegetables processing, watershed based development, wasteland development and milk production and processing. In the context of the emerging challenge of agricultural trade liberalization, it suggests that the approach of these social experiments has much to offer to the policymakers in respect of the social shaping by the weaker sections of agricultural R&D and technology implementation in India. The potential that the approach of network system of technology implementation for the development of people’s oriented technologies is analyzed with the aim to make a positive contribution to the formulation of a strategy of transformation of the institutions involved in the management of agricultural R&D and technology implementation in the age of agricultural trade liberalization. It makes concrete suggestions in respect of the policy for the development of a new set of organizations and institutions to tackle the question of social design of ‘who-whom’ in R&D and technology implementation.

 

Introduction

Technologies have not only social impacts but also are simultaneously social products that embody power relationships and social goals and structures. Technology system designs frequently embody particular images of how the organizations or cultures of user and implementing bodies’ function and what the role of their members should be. Once introduced, it is to be noted, these innovations, by embodying these images, can help either rigidify or alter the technology and the society. Therefore, one needs to be conscious of the ways in which a new technical invention can be inserted into an existing network of social relationships. In other words, this brings to the fore the question of design of who-whom in technology and innovation system, which must be consciously thought about from the standpoint of weaker sections. In agriculture and allied sectors, they are large in numbers, have substantial knowledge and skills, can contribute in a big way to the sustainable agriculture and must be made partners in the development of production systems that are also competitive in the emerging context of liberalization.  This paper illustrates the policy implications of choosing to go for the weaker sections oriented shaping of technologies and the selection of strategies for technology implementation, adaptation and development that are consistent with the long term goals of development of agriculture and allied sectors in India.

 

A critical evaluation of the emerging policy approaches for the development of systems of rural innovation

When the goal of policymakers is to enable the weaker sections to improve their access to the national system of R&D for the benefit of S&T application in rural areas, it is quite clear that the currently popular policy approach of using the arrangements of public-private sector partnerships has little to contribute to the process of innovation for their benefit. For example, this fact is now beginning to be recognized in the sphere of agricultural biotechnological innovation. Big business has little interest in making the poor peasants as their partners in the projects of agricultural innovation. Even in the context of establishment of the relationships of public sector research with poor peasantry or landless the problems experienced in the course of implementation of green revolution technology during the pre-reform period were plenty. Rather than overcoming those problems during the period of reforms the country has experienced an ugly situation of the suicides of farmers. The existing system of innovation was unable to use the format of public private sector partnership to the advantage of rural poor for agricultural innovation in the country. Preference was given to the diversification of farm output which could benefit the forces of agribusiness.

 

The question of how improvements may be affected in the process of agricultural innovation has been directly addressed in the systems of innovation approach by many well meaning scholars. The innovation process has been viewed as suffering from merely the problem of policymakers not taking proper steps to tackle the barriers to interaction and integration of the system as a whole with the private sector. This is the case with even the analysis being undertaken by the well meaning scholars of agricultural innovation (A. Hall, et al (2001), Suresh pal & Joshi, P.K (1999). Although quite a few suggestions have also been made by these scholars to improve the ‘participation’ of these sections as end users in the system of innovation, yet these suggestions are quite inadequate from the standpoint of making the rural poor as the target of innovation process. Even in their analysis the patterns of interaction with end users have been viewed with the aid of an informational conception of barriers to interaction. When it comes to the strategies of development of knowledge markets, the target for ‘user development’ and development of user support organizations is the private or state sector organizations only. The end users like poor peasants, artisans and agricultural labourers are never targeted for the purpose of user development. Policies for the development of user support organizations in the case of rural poor are also not oriented to the task of improving the participation of these end users in the process of technology development that would help make them competitive and stand on their own in competition with the large and medium private sector organizations.

 

The perspective of the large-scale private organizations essentially guides the pursuit of competitive advantage. Technology transfer failures are viewed as a consequence of the poorly developed reach of the public sector research system, in which the private sector organizations should be encouraged to develop partnerships with the public sector research system. The calculations of economic viability of the technologies to be implemented by the potential adopters among the weaker sections are ipso facto undertaken as if they cannot organize themselves and their access to the knowledge markets must be viewed as individuals of small means whose role is to make the land and their labour available for agricultural production and at the best participate in the process of value addition as lower end producers in the long value chain controlled by the large scale private and public organizations.

 

Today the big and medium business groups are trying to capture the new technological opportunities including in the sphere of organics and natural products by establishing their control over the production and marketing system. These forces are trying to get the state governments to change also the legislation on land ceiling. Their strategy to overcome the constraints on the adoption of these new technological opportunities seems to be basically against the interests of rural poor. Reverse land reform is already on the agenda. Some state governments are already seriously considering amending the legislation. These developments can totally negate the possibility of achieving the goals of social equity and ecological security in the sector of agriculture. If they (the big business and their allies in rural areas) succeed mostly the rural poor will be integrated as labourers or ‘labourers like’ as will be the case in contract farming.

 

In our view, the most important question to be looked into is whether the policymakers should characterize and target the potential domains of multiple stakeholders based on the existing comparative advantages or look for the strategies of transformation of technological and innovation systems that go beyond the primitive conception of competitiveness of poor peasants, agricultural labourers and artisans who populate the production systems relating to Indian agriculture and its allied sectors. In identifying complementary linkages should the perspective and support of the private sector be mainly the guiding principle for the development of actions in the spheres of human resource development, development and modernization of research infrastructure, supply of inputs and services, development of contractual research for be medicinal and economic plants or horticulture, IPR and PVP legislation, and so on. In respect of the development of mechanisms of interfacing and institutionalization should the policymakers not look at the issues connected with the design of policies relating to the selection of objectives of technology development and the choice of partners for user development and user support organizations from the standpoint of how can the weaker sections offer through their appropriate organization and interfacing all the relevant economies of scale and scope and assure network and cluster effects, ignored so far in competitiveness evaluation

 

Formulation of strategies and action plans for the purpose of institutional transformation of the systems of agricultural R&D and innovation cannot be therefore limited to working out how do we set up the institutional framework for the development of public-private sector interaction and for the integration of research and non-research organizations. In the context of how to improve the access to the system of agricultural R&D and innovation for the weaker sections, the starting point has to be the analysis of needs with reference to the development of their competitiveness in respect of the development and implementation of technological innovations that are suitable for sustainable agriculture and upgrading of traditional manufacturing going on in non-farm/off-farm conditions in the sectors like agro industries, food processing, processing of fibers, plant based health system, biomass based energy, supply of seeds, external inputs and post-harvest operations. In the development of agriculture and allied sectors, rural non-farm employment will have a synergistic role if the competitiveness of production based on local resources and markets and skills is developed with a system approach in which the weaker sections are drivers and key partners of the public agricultural research system.

Current situation in agriculture and allied sectors

Experience suggests that in the case of agriculture and allied sectors the current mechanism of technology commercialization in India is mostly embedded in a technology push approach. Rural technologies are mostly created without a detailed assessment of the needs of potential rural users in terms of particularly the type of competition they face and the opportunities they can avail. For both agriculture and rural industries since the final end users lie mostly from among the rural poor, it is not possible to create the technologies required without an assessment of their current level of access to markets, resources and capabilities. The S&T agencies are not geared at all to help the rural poor to become competitive users of the technologies. To achieve commercial successes for the rural technologies the current mechanism of training and demonstration in the ready-made technologies is totally inadequate for the implementation of technology. The present passive approach is unable to help the weaker sections in rural areas to benefit from the technologies under development.

 

Indian Agriculture

Major agricultural development schemes have a bias towards preferring the inputs that are scarce & costly. Agricultural development schemes are focused on the application of inputs that are to be obtained from the economy in which the participation of rural poor is difficult. High yielding seeds requiring large doses of water are the basis of improvement in the agricultural production. More and more pesticides are being required to protect the output of crops from the ever-increasing attacks of the new generation of pests that have now emerged. The productivity gains achieved through irrigation and high input agriculture are concentrated in a small area and a privileged few have access to the water and energy sources developed at public cost. Further development of agriculture on the basis of the present technological package of varieties requiring large doses of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, water and energy will be a costly process. As the government is unable to sustain it through subsidies, even for the rich farmers it is seemingly a costly process. 

 

The scope for increase in yield as well as area of high yield crops is small. The exhaustion of the present technological package for productivity gains in agriculture is becoming increasingly visible today in the field. The existing technological package is suffering from serious weaknesses. Salinity and water logging, build up of pests and toxins, continuing heavy soil losses due to erosion, declining input responsiveness, stagnation in productivity, distortions in food system due to loss of forage crops, pulses and oil seeds, unsustainable water and fertilizer intensive crop rotations are some indications. These weaknesses particularly afflict those areas that have contributed maximum to the production in the last thirty years. Within the framework of the present technological package, it is becoming difficult to obtain sustainable solutions to the problems of even the green revolution areas. Problems are far more severe when it comes to finding sustainable solutions in the difficult areas of wasteland development, water management in drought prone areas, deteriorating soil health increase in productivity in dry land agriculture. Increased production in well-endowed areas with the help of subsidized inputs is a central feature of the process of development of agriculture based on the present technological package. It cannot be extended to the new areas and sections without aggravating the above pointed out weakness to the level of a serious crisis that the nation will not be able to tackle for the years to come.

 

Productivity decline in less favored areas is on account of neglect of local water storages and soil protection. Production of pulses and coarse grains has stagnated because these crops are being grown on soils that are heavily eroded and seriously deficient in nutrients. Techniques for conserving moisture, reducing erosion, building soil fertility and raising yields and farm incomes in dry land areas are known, but they have not been profitable enough to induce widespread investments by individual farmers.

 

Rural non-farm employment

Experience of last fifty years of development of rural non-farm employment has similar important lessons on the issue of technological transformation. In the programmes of rural industries, the approach has been to promote the cottage scale units run by standalone rural producers: the individual halwai, the miller, the weaver, the potter, the blacksmith, and the village leather worker.

 

In generating technological inputs the approach of the Khadi and village Industries commission (KVIC) was to improve traditional technologies by scaling them up to intermediate levels and introducing power-driven machines. This approach increased the scale and costs for the small producers, made practical functioning difficult and affected adversely the formulations of viable projects. For example, the traditional ghani is fast disappearing but it has not yet been replaced by the power driven ghani. The large producer using solvent extraction/ expellers is more competitive. Improved gur furnaces have been developed but not adopted adequately. The power pottery wheel entered the market about two decades ago (1970). Yet the village potter continues to operate the traditional wheel. The semi-automatic improved loom was developed in 1972, 90% of handloom weavers continue to use the pit loom. In most of these cases technologies developed failed to incorporate local resources-raw materials, engineering materials energy sources immediately accessible by or with the people. Linkages with local economy were ignored.

 

Experience of poverty alleviation schemes is again not very different. These programmes were initiated with the aim of targeting households below the poverty line, and the idea was to provide each of them with a productive asset through a subsidized loan so that they can rise above the poverty line. The access provided to rural poor under these programmes included milch cattle, goats, sheep and poultry; equipment such as sewing machines, tool kits, camel carts, handcarts, rickshaws or bicycles for hiring out; or working capital for petty trading, tea or pan shops and the like. This approach of promoting small producers among the rural poor through the programmes for self-employment is failing to achieve the objective of large scale and reduce rural deprivation. Wrong selection of beneficiaries, `leakage', failures of enterprises, loss of assets, saturation of small markets for produce etc. have been found to be responsible for the non-achievement of objectives on large scale.

 

Further analysis shows that the approach taken is not able to ensure the economic viability of the income generating projects. Projects are not selected for cost effectiveness. Backward and forward linkages are absent; beneficiaries selected among rural poor are not adequately skilled and lack management competence; the role of the middlemen and contractors, is inimical, leading to `leakage', training is done in isolation without integrating with specific projects, and often without reference to local demand for skills.

 

Evaluations undertaken have been recommending priority to those income-generating projects, which fulfill certain criteria. The projects should be economically viable. They must be innovative and designed to diversify the beneficiaries into never areas of economic activity in a competitive way. The viability of projects must be ensured through assured forward/backward linkages, training should be given in improved technology to produce goods that have a market; provision of new skills should improve employability or productivity.

 

The moot question is how can we avoid the repetition of old failures and achieve positively the policy of technological transformation of petty production in a way that advances the options of sustainable development of agriculture and allied sectors in India. For the development a viable answer what type of strategy should the policymakers formulate to answer this problem? Foresight and assessment exercises of technology implementation being carried out by some of the S&T voluntary agencies tell us that there are many favorable technological opportunities available today.

 

Low external input and sustainable agriculture

The arising new technological opportunities offer a wide range of different solutions to the problem areas indicated to be critical to maintaining productivity gains through the formulation of strategies of transition to the appropriate system of low external inputs in Indian agriculture (BGVS, 1998). Given below is the system design under implementation in respect of low external and sustainable agriculture at several field sites in India which promises the peasantry and rural labour the opportunity to improve their own livelihoods and empower themselves against the attempts of big business to control the Indian agriculture.   

 

Figure: Third level of integration. Addition of ‘Biodigester’ unit for recycling.

 

This is the Multi-subsystem Integrated Farming System that was.

 

As a whole, if we generalize the subsystem integration and resource flow, it will be

something like –

 

NTR= nutrients, Excr./Ex = Excreta

Figure: General scheme of integration.

 

 

Transition to an appropriate system of low external input agriculture is being understood to be consisting of a process of conversion from an unbalanced conventional (green revolution) or traditional farm system to an economically, ecologically and socially balanced one. Recognizing that transition process can be lengthy it is understood that the R&D and innovation systems would be working on a regular basis to extend those technological trajectories that favor the weaker sections in their pursuit of systemic development of agriculture and allied sectors.

 

Below we describe in brief the available major technological approaches where the national agricultural R&D system has quite a significant contribution to make, which would have to be extended by the R&D and innovation systems in a consistent manner in the interest of weaker sections:

 

Better cropping systems and agronomic practices in order to rationalize the use of fertilizers strictly matching the recommendation with soil and plant needs,

 

Promotion of varieties with low fertilizer requirements and resistance to diseases and tolerance of poor conditions of soil and water,

 

Increased use of bio-fertilizers and of practices such as green manuring and application of farm compost, development of cropping systems based on cover strategies which check soil erosion, improve soil health by building organic matter, promote efficient uptake of available nutrients in soils, exploit plant water micro-organism symbiosis,

 

Increased use of biological control and integrated pest management,

 

Farming systems which save on external inputs by making use of complementarities available in the combinations of livestock rearing, aqua-culture and crop planning,

 

Promotion of rain water harvesting and better water application systems, which conserve water and allow better drainage, etc.

 

Fine tuning the Livestock Sub System:

The livestock subsystem is a key component in any integrated farm system. While this has an important role in the resource cycling as farm inputs, this can also be instrumental in upscaling the farm economy through value addition in dairy produces. A number of group innovations are also possible with livestock based interventions.

Towards this the following are the constraints and possibilities:

1. Providing livestock to the farms that do not have it at present. A suitable credit institution has to be worked out for this.

2. Increasing the productivity of existing livestock.

3. Strengthening fodder production and feed enrichment.

4. Semi processing of surplus livestock produces (including fish) for forward marketing.

 

Semi processing of Crop Surpluses at Household level:

A common understanding from the ongoing phase’s experience has been that unless household supplementary income is improved food and nutritional security cannot be ensured. This is because; often small farmers are compelled to sell their crops before meeting the food and nutritional needs to meet various nonfarm expenditures. To meet this challenge, focus will be laid in the proposed phase on value addition of surplus crops wherever possible. Strengthening semi-processing process at household level would hence be a major focus.

B. Cluster Scale:

Towards replication of this mode of farming initiative, watershed level interventions become important. Here, focus is laid on rejuvenating the ecosystem health of the adjacent watershed, in order to improve the biological resource base. Focus is also laid on creating enterprises and institutions for large scale production of various biological agri-inputs, processing and marketing of semi-processed and processed surplus agri-produces and resource user associations at the community scale that would serve as interaction forum and would also look after various interventions after completion of the project phase.

 

Following activities may be taken up towards the above:

 

Watershed level interventions:

Creation and rejuvenation of community water harvesting structures wherever necessary

Creation of sylvi-pastures for fodder, high value aromatic crops and food forests in common lands for common use, to be managed by the landless and women’s groups.

Creation of nurseries to be managed by landless and women’s groups.

Soil conservation and water holding structures wherever necessary.

 

Inputs and Allied Services Centers:

Although, a major objective of the program was tighter resource cycling and thereby reduction of external farm inputs, with a larger number of farms taking up these activities, there would be a demand for such biological inputs like Microbial fertilizers, Biological control agents, Compost starter cultures, Vermi-composts and Vermi cultures etc. There would also be a demand for technical advisories on sustainable agriculture and skilled civil engineering services for creating vermin-compost cisterns, land shaping earthworks etc. Towards this, creation of BIOMARTS in respective project locations would be a meaningful intervention. BIOMARTS can be taken up as enterprises by rural educated youth for production of low cost biological inputs, technical advices and civil engineering services mentioned earlier.

 

Agri-Processing Centers:

A major activity in the proposed program would be creation of agri-processing centres. One such centre will be established in each farm cluster whose activities will be the following:

a. Final processing of the semi-processed surplus agri-produces supplied by the

   farm families and marketing the same in suitable markets under a brand name.

    For marketing, local markets will be given priority but external niche markets

    may also be explored subsequently for higher returns. Profits generated from

    these centres may be shared with the farmers.

b. Processing of produces from the sylvi-pastures like distillation of aromatic

    crops etc. and sharing revenues with the stake holders.

c. These centres may also be run as enterprises by local educated youth.

 

Resource Users’ Association:

In order to make these activities self sustainable after the project phase is over, we propose constitution of Resource Users’ Associations comprising farmers, landless workers, and entrepreneurs involved in the aforementioned system. Activities of these associations would be the following:

Interactions and experience sharing

Monitoring the common facilities like sylvipastoral activities.

Liasoning with external resource groups for problem solving and reinforcements of activities relating to sustainable natural resource management.

 

nabard

 

Technology models for rural non-farm sectors

For technological upgrading of the rural non-farm sectors the users can at least make a start in respect of the development of local economies as a system in itself as there exist today a wide range of technology models available for rural application with the S&T voluntary agencies, CSIR laboratories and KVIC. Technology models amenable to adaptation for the proposed development strategy are available in the fields of agro processing, fruits and vegetables processing, fiber processing, processing of economic and medicinal plants, biomass based energy systems, etc. For further information see the following source books (CSSTD 1981, CSIR 2000, BGVS 1998, DST 2001).

 

PSM experience of the design of who-whom of rural innovation

Broadly speaking, the above-mentioned technological opportunities are essentially aimed at establishing the environment friendly trajectory of biological agriculture and reducing the use of chemicals for protection and fertilization in the country and developing the rural non-farm sector in a systemic way along the pathway of development of local economy as a system as such. PSM organizations have built so far successfully network system of units in the sectors of leather processing based on vegetable tanning of leather and carcass recovery, fruits and vegetable processing based on the production of niche products doing value addition to locally available perishable fruits and vegetables, agro-processing units based on oil and dhal mills supplying also co-products like compound cattle feed, processing of non-edible oilseeds based on value addition for the development of products that can be marketed locally and the creation of agro-ecological farming systems.

 

Evaluation of the experience of all the above-mentioned programmes including the BIOFARM programme of Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Peoples’ Science Movement (PSM) organizations for the development of agro-ecological farming systems tells us that farmers and artisans are required to cooperate in the planning of production on the basis of an area sometimes as wide as a full agro-ecological region to adopt all these technologies successfully. The minimal requirement of area over which the farmers must co-operate will certainly vary for the different technologies. This means that the strength of networking will determine what type of technological package the rural poor in the field can adopt. Depending on the strength of their network people will have to choose an appropriate scale of co-operation. Using new technological opportunities, we believe that people will be able to certainly produce all the required seeds, planting materials, bio-fertilizers, bio-pesticides and energy inputs on a competitive basis in the local economy.

 

The approach should not be of promoting stand alone small producer; it should be based on the principle of multi-sectoral co-operation in production. For the successful introduction of several biological agriculture technologies multi-sectoral collective actions will be a production imperative. For example, for the production of inputs, if people want social control, they will certainly require multi-occupational/ multi-sectoral collective actions. Production co-operation will also not be limited to merely the co-operation among farmers. We will prefer the agricultural labourers, artisans and technicians to co-operate among themselves to implement the input production strategy. They will have to come together to establish a taluk-wide production network to supply the required inputs to the farmers on a competitive basis. This means that a major effort will be needed for the locale specific rural industries that will be targeted to produce the locally needed inputs for the practice of biological/low external input agriculture. This will give an opportunity to involve the agricultural labourers as skilled workers in a big way in the production networks. This way we will be able to produce at the level of local economy itself the new inputs like vermicomposts, agro-organic manures, bio-fertilisers, neem based pesticides, parasitoids and predators, antagonistic and entomogenous microbes, biological control products, bio sensors, early pest warning systems & plant growth stimulants.

 

Needless to say, programmes for the promotion of co-operation in production in the existing ground realities will have to take into account the existing forms of co-operation in production among the rural poor in particular. Currently, the co-operation exists in the local economies for the supply and repair of agricultural implements. Small and marginal cultivators pursuing bullock-powered agriculture do have linkages with the local artisans and are served by a network of the blacksmiths and carpenters at the taluk and kasba level for the supply and repair of implements. Small and marginal cultivators also have linkages for the supply of seeds and manure amongst themselves. For the rural poor Adahari, zuari, mitan, padhyal, muiyallhu, are the traditional forms of co-operation in production.

 

Taluk wide peasant-artisan-agricultural labour co-operation as a driving system

Even today the existing local peasant-artisan economy is still not beyond the control of rural poor. For the establishment of a viable system of innovation the area to be tackled for the development of multi-sectoral production system is a taluk wide network. The strategy of development should be to develop the secondary and primary production being carried out today for the local markets by the poor people as a system in itself. This route to industrial development should receive a priority because through this route there is at least a fair chance for the rural poor to develop competitive rural industrial production. Rural poor will also be able to participate more effectively in the establishment of a large-scale networked system of collective production using this route because the local economy is already under their own control. They will have certainly less problem to develop a taluk wide network (U Trivedi, 1984).

 

It should be clear that no village can and should exist as a closed self-sufficient entity. The official Gandhian approach of village development is certainly inadequate. A viable unit for planned development is the taluk wide economy. Every Indian village, for all its major needs, is at least today closely dependent on the local taluk wide economy. This local economy exists as a multi-sectoral network. In this network the rural poor are themselves both producers and consumers. Occupations engaging the landless labour, artisans, small / marginal cultivators are mutually interrelated amongst themselves, as well as with that of cultivators pursuing bullock-powered agriculture and generally employing family labour. All existing techniques in order to be viable depend upon linked occupations/sectors for provision of inputs, utilization of outputs including that for domestic purposes, and for fabrication as well as repair and maintenance services. Improved/new technology for any occupation/sector too will need a system of forward and backward linkages. Rural poor will be able to benefit from the interventions if we can develop the occupations in an interconnected manner.

 

In the local economy the range of occupations engaging the rural poor is wide and varied. It includes agricultural labour; small/marginal cultivators, hides and skins occupations ranging over flaying, carcass utilization tanning, and product making; cloth weaving dyeing and printing; fibre collection/extraction, basket and mat weaving; animal husbandry, poultry, fishing, toddy tapping, etc. In the areas of allied secondary processing there are occupations like food processing; black smithy, carpentry, pottery, and masonry and other `engineering-artisan', or handicraft occupation; manual haulage and transportation including cycle rickshaw and scavenging.

 

A significant example of linked sector which has maximum inter connections and almost all the existing occupations into a local economy is that of rural engineering comprising black smithy, masonry and pottery which are technically critical to the occupations engaging the weaker sections including landless labour.

 

Further, as these systems of inter-related occupations also cover a spectrum of settlement patterns in a way that we can encourage the introduction and development of technology systems for the creation of area based, taluk-wide, multi-sectoral production networks comprising a mix of both large and small scales, the economies of scale and scope are obtained in this approach through the cooperation of individual small producers planning collectively in a complementary manner. For the rural economy systems in the plains, the `kasbas', i.e. `shandy' villages (B-point), with their characteristic concentrations of artisans and local markets in the form of weekly bazaars, service the nearby villages, are important nodes of secondary production. Therefore, at the kasbas we can easily locate those unit operations/sub T systems, which involve fabrication/manufacturing. Within each of the Kasbas level units of local economy, there are villages inhabited with/tolas/dhanis (M-points) comprising concentrations of agricultural labour. They make their living by going out to nearby cultivator settlements (S- Points) for daily labour, and these sub-areas which are also normally equal to panchayat area, form sub units (MS complexes) in the form of inter-linked villages. At these settlements we can locate intermediate processing functions. The kasbas in their turn are inter-linked to the local taluk town that provides access to non-local products. The town also serves as an outlet for local products to the non-local economies. At the Taluk town we can locate the functions of technological services, fabrication, sales and distribution.

 

Establishment of multi-sectoral production networks of rural poor

To be successful, it is suggested that in the area of agriculture and allied sectors the policymakers will have to abandon the approach of promoting stand-alone small producers. One major premise preventing the achievement of objectives of anti-poverty for rural poor has been that in anti-poverty strategy we must target each poor individual household separately and assist it to rise above poverty line by providing access to credit and training in traditional occupations. This premise has resulted in the approach of promoting small producers who are unable to compete with large producers in the market place by themselves. In some areas co-operatives or groups were formed for input procurement and or credit. This step, while in the right direction was inadequate. Mutual competition amongst the small producers resulted in breaking up of these co-operatives/groups.

 

Under competitive conditions the self-employed small producer has not only to come together for access to resources but has to emerge as multi-sectoral/multi-occupation collective of production, co-operating in production. Economies of scale are required to overcome adverse competition. It is necessary to organise the production units based on mutually complementing technological elements packaged into consciously networked production system that will be accessible to rural poor.

 

The implication is that rural poor will have to pool their resources and capabilities to raise the scale and scope of their existing production organisation. This change in the scale and scope of their collective production organisation is absolutely necessary to allow the participating technologies members to lower the barriers facing them in the adoption of improved technologies. For a superior access to resources and markets, and to technology improvements rural poor will therefore need to avoid mutual competition. Landless labour, artisans and poor peasants will have to look at the possibilities of upgrading the local economies as a system.

 

Studies show that in order to be competitive they will have to come together for the implementation of a taluk-wide area based multi-sectoral large-scale network of production. The short point is that these sectors should be upgraded in the interest of weaker sections on a competitive basis and this can be fruitfully done only if the approach is not of small producer and is based on the principle of co-operation in production.

 

Four new mechanisms of technology implementation

To develop this co-operation on a consistent basis experience indicates that interventions are required in respect of the following:

 

To improve the transferability of available technologies for the establishment of multi-sectoral production networks of rural poor the S&T oriented development agencies need an approach of active intervention in respect of:

 

Identification of the needs of peasants, artisans and agricultural labourers as producers, adaptation of the technologies to make them fully competitive in local markets,

 

Development of the users’ capabilities with the aim to make the local producers competitive against non-local goods,

 

Formation of the networks in production for the establishment of forward and backward linkages within the local economy area itself to achieve competitiveness and

 

Establishment of the linkages for continuous improvement on a competitive basis with the laboratories, financial institutions and governmental bodies

 

To take charge of these interventions the proposed approach of establishment of multi-sectoral network system of group enterprises requires a new system of technology implementation, called the network system of technology implementation. This system incorporates four new mechanisms of need identification, technology adaptation, user development and network formation.

 

These new mechanisms are needed to incorporate integrated solutions to the problems that the rural enterprises face while adopting the technologies, such as,

 

Choice of the markets, product-mix and production system design to tackle the competition arising from the large urban producers who have cheaper access to finance, raw materials, technological inputs and markets,

Adaptation of technology to connect the available technologies to local resources, capabilities and markets to improve the competitiveness of rural enterprises in the market,

 

Acquisition of the matching economic and technological competence by the enterprises for technology mastery and market development and

 

Selection and implementation of the strategy for network development to establish the required forward and backward linkages,

 

Need identification in the proposed approach to technology implementation is undertaken to provide integrated solutions to the above said problems faced by the users. Needs are identified in the form of a feasibility study through field investigations by the S&T field persons in collaboration with the technology generating scientists and the scientists identified for system development. In these field investigations the users participate actively through the S&T field persons.

 

User development efforts are needed to help the users to organise themselves for the competitive processes. In the case of the rural enterprises the industries under consideration are highly competitive. Special efforts are required for the success of rural enterprises. Through the processes of creation of ‘group enterprises’ and networked system of production’ and ‘participative management in production’, people’s oriented development is created. Successes in user development are achieved via the guidance and support for economic competence development to be provided through the S&T field persons who also stimulate the users to organise themselves to make use of the help.

 

Technology Adaptation efforts are undertaken by the technology generating laboratories through a field level programme of adaptive RDD in which the identified scientists collaborate with the S&T field activists and the scientists identified for the development of system functions. Through a programme of adaptive RDD the selected technological designs are made compatible with locally available resources, locally controllable markets and locally developable capabilities. The shaping process for technology package is guided by the design heuristics of networked system of production.

 

Network formation is provided for in the efforts for production network development, technology proving and technology replication to tackle the problems of establishment of appropriate forward and backward linkages. Development of the local economy as a system in itself is incorporated in the approach to system design of production technology implementation. It is again taken up as a collaborative programme between the S&T field persons, the scientists identified for bridging role and the technology generating team.

 

Bridging organizations for network system of technology implementation

For these mechanisms to be established the approach suggests the formation of bridging institutions as its key requirement. In the proposed approach of network system of technology implementation (NTI) the proposed bridging institutions to be set up have a very important role. Particularly, the organisation that plays the role of a system development group is critical. The network system approach to technology implementation suggests that as technology generating groups (TGs) the laboratories would be required to collaborate with the two new groups: the S&T field persons groups (FGs) and the system design and development persons groups (SGs). The proposal is that the S&T activists being identified for the bridging role should be asked to act as the system design and development persons (SGs). In this approach, the system design and development persons (SGs) take care of the functions of executive co-ordination of opportunity analysis, system design, technology specification, technology adaptation and proving, management information system, monitoring and. organisational guidance for enterprise development, network formation and technology replication. In this proposal the TGs are also required to collaborate with the S&T field persons or groups (FGs) who are capable of performing the functions of entrepreneurial leadership. The S&T field persons would be selected from among the users. They are also themselves users. They have been selected from among the users for the ability to provide entrepreneurial leadership to the local producers. They are an active interface of the technology generating institutions in the field. Their income comes from the participation in production. They participate in the tasks of need identification, user development, technology adaptation and network formation. They are selected and trained by the scientists identified for window development. They may be selected either from among the S&T voluntary agencies that are willing to perform this role, or from among the potential users who are willing to establish the role of mother units for the satellite users.

 

Needless to say, the above-mentioned collaborators will have to be nurtured by the agencies as close network partners in an interactive, bottom-up and user-oriented process of technology implementation.

 

Heuristics of network production system design

For the rural poor the problem of access to markets is a systemic problem. The markets for which the rural poor are able to compete are usually only the local markets. For the enterprises of rural poor to succeed the programmes of industrial and agricultural modernisation need to have therefore usually a strategy of developing the local economy as a production system in itself.

 

Need identification has been seen in this approach as the feasibility study preparation for the design and development of appropriate but locally competitive production systems for a taluk-wide area. In rural areas, for the local markets agro industrial production is carried out mainly through the efforts of self-employed artisans, peasants (small/medium/large) and agricultural labor. They are the unorganized small producers or workers who work with the locally available resources to meet many of the local needs. It is not surprising that for their upgradation most development approaches stress therefore the importance of utillsing local resources and meeting local needs. In most cases, however, the approach to technology implementation has been of promoting small producers among the rural poor who are unable to compete with large producers in the market by themselves. In some areas co-operatives were formed for input procurement and /or credit. This step, while in the right direction, has been inadequate for preventing mutual competition amongst small producers co-operating in production for credit and input procurement.

 

It is therefore our understanding that to overcome adverse competition from the large producers the small producers must come together to achieve the economies of scale. In this approach this is be achieved through the upgradation of the existing taluk wide rudimentary networks that are still in existence in the countryside at most of the places. These are networks existing between the artisans and agricultural labour themselves and between the peasants and the artisans and agricultural labour. In this approach they would have to be consciously networked for technological advancement.

 

Rural enterprise development schemes have started partially recognising already this type of requirement in the form of ‘group loaning’, mother-satellite scheme etc. The IRDP and DWACRA progammes give now group loans to the beneficiaries if they are willing to group themselves and apply collectively for loans. NABARD offers a scheme in which the mother units are even given separate funds for disbursing loans to the satellite units from whom the mother unit is required to buy the output to the extent of 50% only. In the case of non-farm sectors, the mother units can even obtain special funds, as grant in aid for providing to the satellite units the assistance required for training and production trials.

 

The proposed approach of rural enterprise development in the framework of establishment of multi-sectoral production network systems uses the model of mother-satellite units to establish ‘group enterpreneurship’ among artisans, agricultural labourers and small and marginal farmers. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to pool the resources and capabilities for raising the scale and scope of their collective production organisation. This change in the scale and scope allows the participants to lower the barriers facing them in the adoption of more sophisticated technologies, making their production more competitive than before in the local markets. They is addressed in terms of their immediate needs by focusing on the ‘pinches’ and the ‘problems, facing them in the supply of goods and services to the local markets. The design heuristics of network systems of production is utilised for the establishment of mother-satellite type production arrangements. These arrangements are consciously created to coincide with the existing division of labour evident in the taluk-wide rudimentary production networks. The approach clearly recognises that the occupations engaging the local producers are mutually inter-related among themselves and therefore encourage the introduction and development of technology for the creation of well organised taluk-wide multi-sectoral production networks comprising a mix of large and small scales. The stress is on encouraging local value addition through linking primary and secondary production, especially for perishable products. Those opportunities are given priority, which can help develop and diversify existing artisan based production networks to higher economically viable science based forms of organisation and production. Those technologies are encouraged which do not require subsidies for ‘sustainability’ and take into account the requirements of competitiveness of production. The approach desires that value addition by new/improved technologies and accompanying network formation should substantially augment the incomes of the participant producers and sustain the S&T persons engaged with them.

 

Heuristics of technology proving and replication

Technology proving and replication are seen as participatory jobs to be implemented in collaboration with the users through the system of field groups and system group

Technologies developed in the laboratories have to often go through a phase of participatory technology proving for successful technology replication. This is particularly applicable when the enterprises are of rural poor and are to operate in competitive markets. Such a phase helps the FG to also build in the process a skeletal production network in which the local people are fully involved. This way there is no alienation on the part of the commonly observed conditions of local people remaining alienated from the process of enterprise development are prevented from setting in. An understanding of the existing knowledge, resources, relations and culture to arrive at the location specific requirements of technological and organisational upgradation is considered a pre-condition for the success of technology implementation. It helps technologies to get replicated rapidly. The network development becomes easy.

 

Technology generating groups cannot be expected to provide ‘ready to implement’ technology variants to the field groups working in diverse environments. They will need persons who can interact with them for the identification of requirements of design modification and improvements in quality control protocols. Persons will be needed who can document the varied field experiences and create knowledge base, decision support systems and training manuals for use in the phase of multiplication of technology implementing units. Successful enterprise establishment needs not only technology which is adapted to local conditions but also support in terms of management information system, arrangements for access to finance, land and other resources and training. Such functions can be performed successfully when the persons provide these services in an integrated manner. This means that the capabilities required for interface are in the nature of system analysis cum synthesis and can be provided only if there is a dedicated group called ‘system design and development’ constituted to perform these functions. The persons comprising the System Design and Development Group, include who are/ were field activists/ or persons who have been intimately associated with the field activists for a period of time.

 

While implementing the programme of technology adaptation and development of skeletal production network, the field group activists are more or less fully engaged in the mobilisation of people, their organisation, and the operation of units. During this phase they have to firstly under take the upgradation of managerial and organisational capabilities of the workers to be deployed in the units. They themselves need support from people who are capable of providing or arranging the training, guidance, and follow up including field level consultation and supervision. Normally they are not in a position to get the best of the technology generating groups under these conditions

 

Heuristics of user participation

To function in the network mode for the establishment of a participatory technology implementation system the formation of the field group (FG) is a critical organisational requirement. The FG performs the crucial role of mother unit. The FG is going to organise the users for establishing the networked units, be these units are satellite or independent. For the supply and implementation of technological inputs, the role of field level interaction with the users, particularly from among artisans, landless labour and small farmers, is performed by it. The FG is not a parasite. It is to participate in production to ensure continuity and further development. It also undertakes interaction with technology generating institutions for the upgradation of skills of producers in new/improved technology and upgrades their organisation and management. Since the new/improved technologies are often not readily available, the approach also envisages the involvement of technology generators from various institutions in the functions of right from guiding field investigations and opportunities analysis to technology development & implementation. The TGs help the FGs perform the functions of guiding field investigations & opportunity analysis, training, design of manuals, assistance in start-up & trouble shooting, prototype design, pilot scale demonstration, adaptive research, etc. The SG co-ordinates the programme and integrates its various components. it interfaces between different FGs and TGs. It undertakes the task of training and orienting them for group enterpreneurship and participative management. It has the responsibility of developing and implementing the system design functions.

 

Process of network system of technology implementation

The proposed approach views the process of establishment of network system of technology implementation as consisting of three interconnected phases: ‘field investigations phase’, ‘technology proving phase’, and ‘technology replication phase’.

 

Field Investigations Phase

Following activities are required to be undertaken in the field investigations phase for need identification based on the field investigations done by the FGs in collaboration with the TGs and SGs:

 

Identification, training and orientation of the field persons selected from among the users to undertake field investigations,

Preparation of a feasibility study for need identification from which the users would be able to derive their entrepreneurial decisions regarding a) the technological system required and b) the strategy of sustainable enterprise development;

Investigations are accomplished using the exercises prepared earlier for: Analysis of preliminary data on occupational structure, to identify an outline of the existing distribution of occupational and settlement patterns;

Development of system diagrams and flowsheets for the existing systems of production;

Case studies of primary data analysis of felt needs and resource constraints under which production and learning is occurring in the local economy;

Samples of extracts from feasibility reports providing calculations of internal rate of return and break-even analysis;

Tools for segment specific analysis (questionnaires, interview methods and record keeping instruments)

 

Technology proving phase

the technology proving support phase in which the organisation of group enterprises, the generation of bankable proposals and their field operationalization for the nucleation of skeletal networks, on-the-job training of field persons, the implementation of adaptive RDD involving controlled field trials, bench-scale lab work and system design involving simulation studies are taken up by the FGs, SGs, and TGs in the form of collaborative programmes;

Hands on training of the field persons on technological aspects i.e. testing, quality control, operation and maintenance,

Formulation of their location-specific programme of adaptive RDD for technology proving, mobilization of the beneficiaries and workers with the aim to incorporate their suggestions on design, raw materials, engineering materials while finalising the design and process parameters for replication;

Implementation by the field groups of their field level programme for technology proving and mobilization of the workers and beneficiaries to from their self-help cooperation groups and to “finalize the technology for replication”

 

Technology replication phase

The technology replication phase involves replication of the networked system of group enterprises within the field area and the expansion into newer field areas to be taken up by the FGs, SGs, TGs, in the form of a long-term programme in multi-sectoral area based development to be taken up in collaboration with the agencies like NABARD, SIDBI and state S&T councils.

Replication of technology in the field through the establishment of viable group enterprises,

Formed sector wise, comprising a production network having a nodal unit at the taluk town and with linked units at the adjacent kasabas, the latter linked to their clusters /complexes of medium and small villages and there by inter-related to the self-help co-operation groups of farmers and of agricultural labour.

 

Methodology of network system of technology implementation

 

Methodology of field Investigations and analysis

In the proposed approach, during field investigations, for the selected field areas, we determine their pattern of concentration of artisans, and investigate in detail the involvement of artisans, peasants and agricultural labourers in the identified market segments. This step obtains for us the accurate picture of the network of settlements and occupations closely linked to the identified market segments. We would cover besides the taluk town, a set of linked 6-8 bazaar villages and 16-24 medium size villages with agricultural labour concentrations in each of the selected field area. We use interview method and group discussion to get all the information required. The artisans, eateries and shops, etc. at the bazaar villages have a wealth of information of the neighbouring villages/area through social links and through buyer-seller relationships.

 

An techno-economic analysis of the existing production is done using the data collected from the field for the activities specific to the segments listed in the project objectives. The thrust of these field investigations is normally to identify the micro-economy of the existing local systems of production in these segments. Data is collected regarding prices, cost structure, customer profile, technical system including details of equipment, raw materials and processes used, nature of transactions, connections and obligations involved in their relationships, be they financial or oriented towards supply of inputs and products or even information.

 

The output of the techno-economic investigations is in the form of analysis of opportunities for upgradation of skills and resources, which are available in the existing system of production. Examples of these have been given earlier.

 

Below we give the type of outputs obtainable from the analysis to be made during this step:

System diagrams of production-structures pervading the local food economy;

Technical system flow sheets, technologies involved and their detailed specifications and the problems being experienced by small producers;

Cost structure and break-even estimates required to quantify the nature and magnitude of constraints and opportunities in respect of collective investment, bulking and technological improvement;

 

The next major task is normally to make a feasibility analysis of the solutions. We identify technological solutions in close collaboration with the technology generation groups. With the help of the information supplied by the technology generators we make the required calculations of the break-even estimates for possible options; concurrently we check the response of the artisans, peasants and the agricultural labourers. In other words, we undertake a proper feasibility analysis leading to detailed project reports for action research that provides implementable solutions in 12 to 36 month time frames.

 

Technology proving & replication methodology

Technology generating groups undertake adaptive RDD work in collaboration with FGs by involving the local people. The process and equipment are suitably adapted to the conditions prevailing locally in respect of utilisation of local resources, capabilities and markets. The programme of adaptive RDD for its implementation in the field means involving the field groups’ activists and the technology generating groups, for the executive co-ordination of the work on technology adaptation & demonstration, enterprise start-up, and network development. The system development groups is required to co-ordinate and execute all the work on identification of technology adaptation requirements, documentation, manual preparation, training and follow-up, knowledge base development, decision support system development, MIS, organisational development guidance.

 

Examples of system designs for the development of R&D and innovation in agriculture and allied sectors

 

Low external input and sustainable agriculture

In the area of input production for low external input agriculture major opportunities lie in the mobilisation of rural poor on the provision of solutions to common problems being faced by the small and marginal cultivators. For a great majority of small cultivators land is a scarce resource. The holdings are small, productivity is poor, and often the land gets eroded and rendered non-cultivable. Cultivation is dependent on rainwater and due to the vagaries of nature productivity keeps fluctuating. Today the traditional water management systems consisting of tanks, ponds and wells face serious problems due to the unplanned interventions of administration, the breakdown of feudal land relations which provided stability to the traditional water management systems and the richer peasants changing over to the new irrigation sources. Currently the rural poor is experiencing serious water shortages. Similarly, the traditional methods of recycling of animal dung and urine, composting and green manuring have also been dwindling due to the unscientific and unplanned changes taking place in the traditional farming systems are not adequate to meet the needs of the small peasants

 

The approach of low external input agriculture does offer integrated solutions to the problems of small & marginal cultivators. To enumerate them in terms of the scope of interventions we have given below our suggestions:

 

High yielding seeds that take into account stresses generated in the local environment, and their resource constraints.

 

Water management practices that will allow the people to conserve water and generate additional water through rainwater harvesting measures.,

 

Access to low cost biological methods that can restore soil fertility and vitality;

Access to integrated pest management;

 

Wasteland recovery

There is an opportunity in the recovery of wastelands using particularly those farming systems, which are able to combine the advantages inherent in silvi-pastoral cover which also supports the secondary production in the sectors where artisans and agricultural workers can easily be the organizers of production.

 

In the recovery of wastelands the scope is enormous. The opposition will be comparatively less from the vested interests. Given below are the elements to be integrated in the package for wasteland recovery: 

 

Recovery of wastelands using the practice of silvi-pastoral combinations to link this sector with the production of fodder required for the increase in milk supply;

Recycling of biodegradable wastes through the adoption of biogas for the supply of energy to the unit engaged in milk processing and of slurry as manure to the small and marginal cultivators pursuing bullock powered agriculture/wasteland recovery;

Recycling of biodegradable wastes through vermiculture, composting and pisiculture for the increase in productivity of primacy production;

Production of inocula of beneficial micro-flora (mycorrhiza and other nitrogen fixers) with culturing at the lab located in talk town, multiplication at the kasba level and inoculation of microbes in saplings/seeds at the medium scale village level;

Supply of seeds and planting materials for fodder crops, medicinal herds fibres through the establishment of production of production of seeds and nurseries in networked form,

Maintenance of breeding materials at the facilities located in taluk town, foundation seeds at the Kasba level and multiplication of certified seed at the medium scale village level;

Construction and maintenance of structures for improvement in the availability of water for small farm irrigation and off-farm occupations;

Development of facilities for storage and conveyance of water, distribution and delivery, in the form of treated timber bamboo cribs for check dam, diversion structures, embankments; development of low cost protection for seepage control and restriction of evaporation using non-woven fabric, clay lining;

Adoption of physical methods of treatment in combination with biological recovery for the prevention of soil loss on eroded lands and reclamation of saline, alkaline, mushy lands using local skills and materials

Introduction of cover management practices fulfilling ecological requirements and adaptable to stress factors like water scarcity, salinity, poor soil quality and resistant to pests and disease; use of measures requiring only low cost external inputs for increased productivity;

Adoption of methods for the assessment of climate, hydrology, soils topography and biotic factors such as potential stresses, weeds, pests, insects, diseases, vegetation game and animals using software incorporating local knowledge in respect of weather watersheds and soil and plant health.

 

Fruit and vegetable processing

Several organizations (STD Mandi, CTD Dehradoon, FOSET Calcutta, CSR Agartala, CARD Koraput, HESCO Garwhwal, HVM Rohtak, etc.) are already into the implementation of suitably designed systems of fruits and vegetables processing that are managed by the group enterprises. Products are being marketed using a common brand name called Farmers. The niche selected for intervention emphasizes the development of natural products. Technology models have been standardized under the field conditions of networked system of production for the operations of pulping/juicing/jamming, pickling/fermentation, drying /osmodehydration. The system design envisaged for processing and production involves a network of women beneficiaries organized at small village level units and a nodal processing unit at town/kasba level which receives the semi-processed materials from the previous level for drying and packaging.

 

System designs for the applied water system

In the compendium prepared by CASAD, Mumbai the organization provides details of its experience in respect of construction, cost and performance of earthern bunds, timber/bamboo gabion structures, ponds, low cost pipes with stage lift, reinforcement of walls, road bases, etc. The Compendium reports successful cases as well as of failure. Much of its work has been implemented in Konkan region. Efforts are being replicated in other parts of Maharastra, Gujarat and Orissa. Techniques developed use local materials; they encourage the use of small timber, non-woven fabric and reduce the inputs of plastics, cement and steel.

 

Milk production and processing

Milk production is essentially an occupation of small farmers and agricultural labourers. A rudimentary network exists in the form of milk vendors (dudhis) collecting milk from them for sale in the taluk and kasba markets to sweet mean makers, eateries, tea shops, and individual families etc’.  In this network inputs for the milk production are supplied partly by dudhis who bring oil cakes, etc. from the taluk markets to the villages. The bulk of the fodder is even today obtained by the small producers from either their own fields or by spending hours on cutting weeds and wild plants. Veterinary care is supplied for the most part by under-trained vets and traditional medicinal men.

We also give below the examples of common problems being faced today by the rural poor:

Poor transportation facilities and spoilage of milk, particularly in areas distant from the taluk town

Conflict over the pricing of milk amongst producers and vendors

Adulteration of milk and dissatisfaction among the consumers

Gap between demand and supply; wide seasonal fluctuations

Lack of facilities for complete milk utilization for conversion into value added items such as cottage cheese, khoya, ghee, matha, etc,

Seasonal shortage of fodder and growing cost of cattle feed.

Lack of animal health care services

Unscientific dairy management practices.

Implement Rural Poor Oriented Solutions

 

Given below are some of the rural poor oriented industrial solutions that can be selected to implement the approach of large scale networked production systems for the milk sector:

Milk sterilisation and hot pack technology using biomass energy sources with implementing units located at medium size villages

Manufacture of balanced feed using bulking and locally available resources such as oil cake as a co-product of oil expeller located at medium sized villages/kasbas performing custom crushing, husk and bran from mini dal and wheat mills located at medium sized villages/kasbas performing custom milling.

Milk distribution through a dedicated network of vendors and depots located at kasbas and taluk, town which are also engaged in the transportation and sale of milk products.

Milk collection by the centres using the scheme of pricing based upon total fat which are also engaged in the supply of chopped ensiled fodder and concentrate to milk producers and are collecting dung and if required, transporting it to the biogas units located at medium sized villages from these centres.

Value addition through processing into butter, ghee khoya, etc,

With longer shelf-lives product diversification into flavoured milk, sweet curd, whey preparations, matha, etc. and these activities being taken up from the units located at medium size villages/kasbas as part of the network.

Potter, masons, blacksmiths and basket weavers joining hands to provide the improved equipment for sterilisation, milk processing, milk/transportation and storage.

Provision of breeding facilities and health cover through the establishment of Goshalas(cattle-shed for collective animal care.) development of bare-foot veterinarians located at medium size villages with the supply of medicines from pharmacy located at town.

 

Analysis of experience with technology implementation

Based on the approach of network system of technology implementation (NTI) a number of technology systems are already in place in the field. For example, there has been a successful introduction of the new technology in leather processing, which employs environment friendly technique of improved vegetable tanning. This technique was developed in the fifties by Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), a laboratory of the CSIR system. It increases the productivity by 4 to 6 times for the tanners. It remained on the shelf of CLRI as process know-how. It was put to use by the KVIC in its common facility centres with the processing capacity of 100-200 hides a batch, but it failed to take off because it involved a number of serious problems.  Artisans were required to use motorised transport to carry the hides and skins. They faced not only the problem of availability of transport, but also the problems of co-ordination and planning. Due to the scale of mobilisation of hides and skins involved in the KVIC technology system the costs of transport of raw materials and processed materials between the points of collection and the location of common facility centres. Remember the technique was to be implemented in a terrain where metalled roads are lacking even till this date. Also remember that artisans were not co-operating in production and were mutually competing artisans. Final processing and marketing was individual producer centred activities. Traders controlled the markets in which artisans were to do the selling. They were forced to get into destructive rivalry, which finally made the common facility centres itself an area of conflict. Based on its understanding of the local economies the PSMs took a very different route in the area of leather processing. Kasba was chosen as the location of secondary processing of hides and skins and the technology in respect of the scale of tannery to be set up was duly revised.  It was found that a tannery that could process even just 10-20 hides a batch should be sufficient. The number was worked out on the basis of how many hides and skins can come from the fallen animals. It was worked out that without the aid of motorised transport only these many hides the flayers would be supplying, and this number should determine the scale. Tanners were grouped into group enterprises. Unit level co-operation in production was introduced. Tanneries were accordingly designed to suit these scales and operationalised at the kasba level locations in places like Mandi (Himachal Pradesh), Rohtak (Haryana), Dehradoon (Uttar Pradesh), Bastar (Madhya Pradesh), Pondicherry Islampur (W. Bengal). But even then there was a problem of supply of hides and skins in quite a few locations. This happened because the ‘flayers’ were still linked to the tanneries through the markets. Large traders, who could succeed in preventing them reaching the supplies to these tanneries, controlled the markets for supply of hides and skins from the areas. Work had to be started on the development of carcass recovery systems to bring the flayers into the production net of the technology system for leather processing under development for the small producers. The issue of how to engineer the choice of the scales of various sub-systems comprising the carcass recovery system, which would not eliminate the flayers but involve them in the network of production, has proved to be a major challenge. Experimental development is even today continuing. But what is certain that on an installation of the carcass digesters under the control of flayers themselves instantly the tanners could win them over to the production net in these areas. There was a radical change in the flayers’ attitude to the tanneries. They were now willing to co-operate with the tanners.  They were a part of the network and did not have to be related through the market. Their social identity was changed It was now possible in the tanneries to plan for the utilisation of full capacity. Till date, work on the development of machines is continuing in respect of leather cutting, wrinkle removal, pressing and leather finishing. Without these machines some of the units like one in Tripura is yet not viable. Local markets are available for exploitation but to tap them you need the aid of complete system designs for technology and business. Technology, production organisation, business models and marketing strategies, all are inter-linked issues in any development strategy.

In the area of mustard processing, traditionally bullock driven ghanis were in use for the processing of mustard oil in India. KVIC tried replacing these ghanis using the technology of power ghanis. Economics did not work favorably for the ghanis except in the markets where the premium is available for pungency.  There was too much residual oil being left in the oil cake. MERADO has developed an expeller that not only ensures pungency of oil through temperature control, but also leaves less residual oil in oil cake.  In spite of this advantage the machine was incomplete on its release to the user, in this case a PSM organisation. The advantage was incomplete because the size of local market was insufficient to consume the oil that would be produced if run on its full capacity utilisation. The designed capacity of MERADO expeller is four times higher than the capacity of ghani. Large producers, who use modern expellers of varying capacities in combination with ghanis that are needed, when the pungent oil is to be marketed, have already penetrated the town markets. In the short run, for a new producer the reasonable solution turns out to be one of to sell the product in the non-local market niches where there are some niches available for co-operative production. Even when the enterprise is local, experience tells that it takes time for a new producer to establish itself in the local market.  But for a tapping of the non-local market the producer should have a set up for filtration. The package did not contain appropriately engineered filtration set-up. To save on the investment new strategies had to be devised for filtration. In the large-scale units the practice of double filtration is a norm. They deploy usually two filters in series to undertake double filtration. In the case of small units it would not advisable to go for the establishment of two filters. The only answer was innovating in filtration. By combining appropriately the processes of double filter cloth, settlement and decanting the producer did the innovation by itself. Learning strategies used included talking to the workers, speaking to the technology generators and engaging in experimentation at the shop floor. For a group enterprise that is worker owned this kind of experimentation was easy to manage. It did equally well when it came to working out a solution in respect of the utilisation of oil cake. The option of selling this co-product to the solvent extraction units was ruled out. The option of preparing cattle feed was duly explored with a helping hand from the university nearby which specialises in agriculture and animal husbandry. Innovating was not easy. Cattle feed based on mustard oil cake was a new product for the local market where the preference for cotton oilseed or its cake are already well established due the animals having got used to these products.  Formulations had to be adapted not only in terms of promoting the utilisation of local ingredients but also in terms of adapting the preparations to suit the palate and body of the local animals. Experimentation was undertaken by the group enterprise keeping in view that the new preparations are economically competitive. Cattle feed markets are sensitive to the prices of substitutes that come seasonally into the market after the harvests as a cheap source of bulk supply. The networked group enterprise model was of tremendous help, it has allowed both the oil processing and the cattle feed making units to survive the ups and downs going on in the local markets every at the time of the seasonal fluctuations. Thanks to the bridging organisations learning has been as per the requirements of systems designs needed.

Both the technology system and the business system are coming up as per the requirements of the outcomes that are also radical in nature. The rural poor have not been eliminated. They are in command of the production organisation. The model of worker-owned group entrepreneurship is getting ready for acceptance in the agro-industrial environment where the modern forms of management are even today scarce in the large-scale operations. Green natural products are on the way to get acceptance in the markets that are not elite and are competitive where price competition matters. In the sector of fruit processing, the PSMs have been able to launch very rapidly green natural fully safe healthy products at competitive prices. In India today UNDP is promoting the same fruit-processing model now through the PSM linked S&T voluntary agencies to the parties interested in commercialising the technology in newer areas. .

Lessons learnt from the experience of technology implementation

Collective production by rural poor can be built around the principle of worker co-operatives i.e. worker ownership, collective appropriation of surplus and full participation in decision-making. Worker ownership demands that production is owned and managed by the worker himself or herself. Ownership here refers to business and non-necessarily to capital. Ultimate control of business decision lay in the hands of workers. Non-worker as owner member is completely eschewed. Hiring of a separate managerial staff is also avoided. It means that S&T field activities are fully accountable to the participating worker members. They also participate in production. How to use the surplus generated is collectively decided. It is not privately appropriable. A part of the surplus is invested back for the expansion of business. Worker owners draw only wages for full time work. Wages are decided on the basis of productivity norm lay down collectively. They also decide the quantum of non-wage benefits to accrue to individual members. Skill levels are reflected in wide differentials within limits. Material and non-material incentives are used to improve the condition for learning and innovation.

For the management of funds and allocation of resources the rules to be used for site, sector and area wise planning are also decided collectively by the participating workers for the taluk wide network. Relations between units within & across the sector are determined through a planning process using the principle of surplus being made available as only loans to each other. Loans are provided based on the rules regarding performance and need. Whatever are the rules worker members decide them in the principle of participatory decision-making.

While the complete path of transition to a large-scale taluk wide networked system of collective production by rural poor is yet to be traversed, as nobody has covered the complete journey, but even the partial experiments made by the various S&T field groups of people's science movements indicate quite a few lessons regarding the strategy of implementation which we offer here as illustrations. Experience indicates that for getting started the S&T field activists should select those opportunities as hooks (entry points) which would help nucleate the S&T field group and embed them as leaders in the network of existing occupations. S&T field activists should give priority to the introduction of collective organization for bulk procurement with price advantage to effect savings for the producers/workers and income to sustain at least partly themselves.  Only when they have stabilised themselves through these activities in the network of existing production of rural poor, the transition to higher forms of collective production should be attempted.  Without going through any of these efforts it is difficult to establish the activists as leaders.  They should not be seen as mere managers, though benevolent, of grant-in-aid/subsidy based initiatives. Collectives can be formed only when the alienation of workers has been tackled by involving them as worker owners capable of participating in decision-making process right from the beginning.  In the area of leather network upgradation, this has been the experience of S&T field groups.  They are struggling even today to overcome the alienation of workers participating in tannery units. .

S&T field activists should follow a strategy to organize and transform production only in stages acceptable to the people. Small/unorganised producers require encouragement and time for acquiring skills of management. They have to go through a process of establishing trust amongst each other. Only through a process of self organization they can get the confidence to develop into collective groups which are inter-linked amongst them to form a large scale networked production system.  It would be better if the units are built through incremental innovation in a way of which gives them access to the process of decision making and serves the interest by developing solutions to their immediate problems. Then, they have fewer problems in accepting the framework of cooperation outlined for the formation of a large scale networked system of collective production. Therefore, to get started for the transition from household form to higher industrial forms priority should be given to solutions, which shift drudge domestic industry to local units organized by collectives of rural poor, e. g. from mortar-pestle to huller and chakki to dehusker for custom milling of grains and pulses, which also yield by products for diversification of value added production. Experience shows that even in the backward areas the shift takes longer not so much due to the competition offered by large-scale units but more due to the duality prevailing in the labour markets on the basis of the gendered divisions still persisting in a big way. Success was easy for the units involved in bhujia-making who could use the mini-dal mills to process dal for in-house use. S&T field activists have had more difficulties in developing the markets for dal for household consumption in the rural areas where the chakkis are still viable and are extensively getting used due to the availability of cheaper household female labour.

S&T field activists can easily make the error of shifting away from the path of strengthening the network of rural poor to the path of developing non-local markets far more, which often exerts a lot of pull and weaken the incentive to develop inter-links in the local economy.  In the long run-this can prevent the network builders from strengthening control of rural poor over the units. The capacity to self-organize also suffers for the rural poor. Appropriate technological development should be given due attention in parallel. The inter-links among the occupations of rural poor in the new production systems are a function of technological choice. Delay in the development of suitable carcass recovery technologies has costed the field groups in leather sector. Inappropriate technological choices must be discouraged. The acid test of viability and whom it benefits must be applied rigorously to each and every technological choice. Take the example of chilling of milk as a technological means for the preservation of milk.  It has eliminated the occupations of dudhia (milk vendor) and halwai(sweet-mart manufacturer). The choice of chilling weakened the networks that existed on the ground.  Sterilization has much more potential of improving the connectivity of technology of rural poor.. Some of the TGs who have been attracted to the approach to some extent are trying to develop these options afresh. For the success of this approach it is necessary for the capable TGs to come forward for the collaboration with the S&T system and field groups. Technology generating groups have a very crucial role in the identification of appropriate technologies. But the problem of TG back up is today getting to be serious for the projects that do not have the legitimacy that the other sectors offer to the TGs for the time being. Today when the external liberalisation is already in place the institutional environment is far less conducive than the eighties when the pressure for internal competition was stronger.

The efforts made by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to select and support the development and demonstration of the models of technologies using NTI approach by the PSM linked S&T voluntary agencies are though a better example in the design and implementation of partnerships for technology implementation but even in the case of DST programmes it has not been possible for the principal agents to monitor the partnerships in all cases. There have been failures in the mechanisms of monitoring. Grant in aid led technology demonstration has been so far the key mechanism of technology transfer. While there is the need for grant in aid for the partnership arrangements to emerge in respect of technology development and incubation, at the same time if not monitored properly it can act as a disincentive in respect of the requirement of user development. For a long time there can be failures persisting even in respect of the perusal of unviable system designs if the grant in aid approach goes on in a fashion of formally monitored but substantively not changed. Viability of the technologies identified by this programme is still a moot question for the sectors that have been picked up by the newer S&T voluntary agencies.  Even within the PSM linked S&T voluntary agencies we see an uneven experience. Rohtak (Haryana) has had more difficulties in reaching the commercial levels than Mandi (Himachal Pradesh).

Experience has indicated that though it is quite possible for the rural poor based group enterprise to grow on the basis of the inter-related opportunities available in local markets through the introduction of suitable technology system but the development of local markets takes time. It has been clearly demonstrated that a wide range of factors could easily affect adversely the pace of development of local markets. It came out that often these factors are such that the rural poor would find them difficult to control. For example, right from the beginning the unit had to face the additional difficulty of unfair competition inflicted due to the import of cheaper palm oil on the sale of unadulterated, unblended, pure mustard oil. During this period all over India the markets of mustard oil were a heavy sufferer due to the lack of safeguards at both at the level of the legislation required on blending and labeling and the custom duty level of imported oils. The expected premium for pungency of mustard oil was also not easy to obtain in the local rural market segments of Hisar. As a result throughout the project period the unit established in Kanwari was definitely faced with a lot of competition in the local market. Local markets of Hisar were not sufficient as such to absorb fully the products yielded. The enterprise was induced to tap the mustard oil markets of Rohtak, Jind and Delhi where the field group had its contacts. For the successful tapping of local market and of non-local markets network development including competence development for the nodal group was found to be an essential condition for success in business.

Concluding remarks

Many more examples are available whose experience needs to be analyzed further. Experience of the partnerships entered into for the development of system designs indicates that the rate of success is much higher with this new approach. This type of networking also seems to be leaving the laboratory scientists not only far more equipped in respect of the management of knowledge of field requirements but also far freer to pursue innovative researches within the four walls of the public sector research institutions. The possibility of replicating these technologies on a systemic basis appears to be far higher within the weaker sections on a competitive basis in the case of this new approach to technology implementation. However, it should be noted that there are also challenges facing this new approach. Many of these challenges are related to user development and are not being faced squarely by the NGO partners who today spearhead the diffusion of these system designs. They must come up with appropriate user development strategies and provide solutions to accelerate the pace of introduction and replication in all parts of the country. There are other challenges that the scientists working in publicly funded laboratories can certainly help resolve faster. For example, in most sectors local market has not been found to be sufficient to absorb the products yielding from rural enterprises in all the field sites due to the still continuing weaknesses in the technology systems. Suitable consumer movements are needed to be encouraged to ease the process of transition to a system of production, which would be multi-level and optimize the development in the interest of weaker sections. At the higher levels, there is bound to be a role for SMESs and large enterprises in the process of this type of development strategy, for which the system of public-private partnerships may be appropriate. But for the development of agriculture and allied sectors the development of local economies as systems is critical if the policy makers want a strategy that is consistent with long term goals of development of agriculture and allied sectors.

Selected References:

Upen Trivedi, Approach and Direction for the Scheme of S&T for Weaker Sections, DST, 1984

Sushas Pranjape etal, ‘Watershed based Development; A Source Book’ BGVS, November 1998.

DST, Technology Models for Rural Application, DST, 2001

CSSTD (CMD), Gaon Ke Karigar Aur Science, CSIR, 1981, New Delhi

Suresh Pal & Joshi P.K, ‘New Paradigms of Agricultural Research Management’, NCAP, March 1999.

Hall, A. J, Yoganand, B, Rasheed Sulaiman, V, and Clark, N.G, ‘Sharing perspectives on public-private sector interaction’, NCAP and ICRISAT, 2001

Norman Clark, ‘Innovation systems, Institutional Change and the New Knowledge Market: Implications for Third World Development, INTECH, UNU, December 2001.

Abrol, D, 1998 Technological Transformation of Rural Areas: A Guidebook on Network System of Technology Implementation. National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies, New Delhi

Krisnaswamy, K.N., Reddy, A.K.N., 1994. The Commercialisation of Improved Technologies in Rural Areas, in Bhalla, A.S., Reddy, A.K.N., (Eds), the Technological Transformation of Rural India, Intermediate Technology Publications, London

Abrol, D., Menon U., Pulamte, L., Kumar, P.V.S., 1998, Evaluation of CSIR Rural Technologies National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies, New Delhi

Fischer, Thomas, Mahajan Vijay, 1997, The Forgotten Sector, Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd. , New Delhi.

 

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