South Asia Research Seminar:
Hegemony and Sustainable Agriculture in India
According to its advocates, low-external input sustainable agriculture has the potential to not only reduce the ecological burden of industrial farming, but also to challenge entrenched power relations. This is said to be particularly true in developing countries. By building farmers’ self-sufficiency and establishing local marketing networks, ecologically integrated farming systems are said to reduce farmer dependency upon chemical and seed companies and undermine the hegemony of global agri-business over developing countries’ food systems. The irony, however, is that in order to achieve their goals, organisations promoting sustainable agriculture must work with at least four entities that are part of the same hegemonic bloc that established the existing global food regime. Typically, they must forge relations with (1) international donors; (2) the state; (3) the urban middle class; and (4) the rural elite. Through reference to three case studies, I will explore how the contradiction between sustainable agriculture’s hegemonic embeddedness and counter-hegemonic ideology play out on the ground in rural India.
Trent Brown is a research assistant at the Australia India Institute. He completed his PhD from the University of Wollongong in 2013, on the topic of sustainable rural development in India. He is currently working on a book manuscript based on his doctoral research titled Hegemony and Sustainable Agriculture in India, which is expected to be released by the end of 2016. His broader research interests include youth and rural-urban migration.