The Development Branch

I.   Putting Down Roots (1 9 8 4 – 1 9 8 9)

Each of the three branches can be traced to activities or events in the first years of PS’s existence and though closely inter-related the branches can nevertheless be tracked through the years as they each took a different direction, not so much geographically initially, since they were mostly in the same areas of operation, but in the issues they tackled and the approach adopted.

WEP PROGRAM

 

Meeting of forest dwellers against eviction at Cotigaon

The first development activities were in Bandora village in the form of an income generation program for women. This was a very limited project in one village with a very small group of 20 women, the Women’s Employment Program (WEP) with a very small budget. It was intended as an entry-level activity, including both education and an economic program for the group of women involved. The goal of the economic program was to generate income generation opportunities out of locally available materials for groups of women working together. This included making of brooms and leaf plates as well as foodstuff like papads and jackfruit wafers.

While the economic programme did achieve some measure of success, the real benefit to PS from this initial phase was the learning from its failures, that helped it to design and implement later activities. The shortcoming of this initial were recognized as-

  • A lack of understanding by the participants regarding the overall goal and development approach of the Society.
  • A “welfare beneficiary” attitude generated in the women.
  • PS was perceived as an employer, even if benign in its attitude
  • Project impact was reduced because of the resistance of the men who were suspicious of the project’s intentions.
  • The project area and scope was limited thus reducing the impact.

What PS learnt form this first phase of work was that poverty was not merely a lack of money but of the capacity to make decisions that would determine their own future Therefore more comprehensive programs were needed, which included the participation of the men and which seriously impacted the family livelihood.

The development activities were therefore re-designed in scope and coverage in the next phase, the first stage of the Integrated Rural Development (IRD) program.

THE IRD PROGRAMME, STAGE 1: 1987-89

The PS IRDP program was designed and implemented in collaboration with Gandhi Peace Centre, Hyderabad with support from EZE. The project objectives were threefold:

i.        Livelihood enhancement of poor and marginal farmers through setting up service centres (Agro Centres) to provide services in agriculture and animal husbandry. The objectives were to increase productivity in these sectors as well as provide income-generating opportunities, both on-farm and off farm for these families.

ii.        Mobilizing the community and creating an overall awareness towards social reconstruction. This was through activities in the health and education sectors.

iii.        Women’s Development through training for economic skills and opportunities for employment.

The project was implemented in three of the original five villages, with Agro Centres opened in Deusu Korgaon and in Cotigaon, while the WEP activities were continued in Bandora.

The activities in this phase continued until 1989. The Agro-centres were very popular and the performance, as measured by the relevance and quality of the services provided by the centres, good. The agro-based production activities of the WEP program in Bandora went through several ups and downs. The major constraint was the marketing of products, which in turn was affected by problems of quality control. The jackfruit wafer proved the most popular and even achieved some degree of brand recognition in the area. But the highlight of this branch in these years was the Cotigaon experience.

THE COTIGAON EXPERIENCE

PS was working in 5 villages in the area. The area was remote and relatively under-developed even as compared to the other areas in Goa. The inhabitants were almost entirely adivasis. The entry points were the house-to-house survey in 1985 and then the project work in 1986. The Agro-centre functioned well and there was also a good educational program, both for adults and children. But the major achievement and impact was in the area of social organization, which was concretised in the formation of a community organization, the Vanvasi Sanghatan.

THE VANVASI SANGATHAN

The major problem facing the local population was the government plan to set up a Nature Sanctuary covering the land of all five villages and the relocation of the population in another area. The survey and the project services proved to be a good base for a more comprehensive socio-economic action program, and the Vanvasi Sanghatan covering all 5 villages was formed to fight for their rights and principally to resist eviction form their traditional lands. In spite of strong opposition from political and government circles, the people stood firm against force and later to resist “bribes” in the form of government handouts and benefits in an attempt to break the people’s unity.

 

The women formed the backbone of the movement and it was because of them that the men were able to stand their ground along with them. And in the end the people were to wrest significant concessions from the government with four out of the five villages spared from eviction.

But there was another gain for PS from this activity, namely that environmental protection while important and even vital, especially in a state like Goa, must never negatively effect the rights of the local populations, especially the poorer sections.  This provided the inspiration for PS’ later involvement in a number of environment-based campaigns in Goa and indeed the country, in collaboration with other NGOs and peoples organizations. PS always and everywhere championed the cause of the local communities while also ensuring their active participation in the movements and campaigns. This was particularly true for the key Ecological activity of these years, The Save the Western Ghat Movement that is the trunk or main element in the Ecological Branch of this period.

 1989 – 1997

IRDP PHASE 2

While environmental campaigns and institution building held centre-stage for PS during this period, the development work also continued and progressed. This was through the 2nd Phase of the IRDP project with Gandhi Peace Centre, Hyderabad and EZE Bonn, Germany. The work continued with expanded scope of activities and an increased geographical range. The project objectives were also modified based on the learning, both of the earlier development work as well as the experience of organizing communities around issues in the campaigns. The new approach was:

  • Agricultural development was seen not only in the context of economic self-reliance but also in the context of ecological balance. As a result there was an increased emphasis on sustainable agricultural systems and in particular on organic farming. PS took it as challenge and started various experiment on organic farming in its campus.
  • The social reconstruction goal was possible only if there is a cadre of committed persons in the community, committed not just to short-term project activities but to broad based civil society associations through setting up autonomous institutions with strong and committed leadership. This insight would take full shape in and through the Swaraj Movement.
  • Women’s. Self-reliance is not just an output of the project activities but must be an integral aspect in the very process. As a result, the practice of free services was discouraged and eventually discontinued and participants were motivated to pay fees for the services accessed.

 

There were 7 village centres of work.  Pedne was one of the most active areas, where besides agriculture related activity, there was a strong emphasis on women’s groups accessing the DWCRA scheme. In all there were 7 such groups, which eventually achieved autonomous status. Other centres were Cotigaon, later shifted to Paigini, Madkai and Bandora.

The main sets of activities were in three sectors-

 

Agro-Centres

These centres were the base for a variety of services and training programs. These included

  • Power tiller/sprayer services
  • Desilting of tanks
  • Farming systems inputs
  • Land improvement
  • Organic farming training and demonstration
  • Afforestation
  • Biogas system

 

Livelihood Training Programs

These included

  • Farmers camps
  • Fisherman’s Training program
  • Training in Production of foodstuffs for women entrepreneurs
  • Vocational Training for Women specially in tailoring,
  • Production centres for foodstuffs
  • Production training Program for independent entrepreneurship
  • Vocational Training
  • Handicrafts
  • Marketing Assistance.

Women’s Economic Program

THE PS CAMPUS

During this period PS made efforts to get land from local Communidad in Bandora village to develop a campus for its own activities own. However, these attempts were in vain. Thereafter, in 1989 succeeded in buying a 4-½ acre farm in Madkai village, a short distance away from Bandora. The main building was built within a year and PS shifted it office from Bandora to this new own campus. The chosen village met all the criteria set by PS, which primarily wanted to set up its base in a remote village with a population of poor people, and marginalized farmers, where the campus would became the hub of experiment towards self-reliant villages. Over the years, a new campus gradually took shape. The campus was designed to merge harmoniously with the environment with low buildings and not a single tree was cut down for buildings. The campus now provided a convenient site for variety of trainings activities and successfully engaged in natural farming.

Now the Campus has following infrastructures and facilities.

Besides above the campus is unique site of experiment on natural / farming which is full of Hundreds of tree, shrubs and creepers. For detail please refer chapter on Organic Farming.

DOCUMENTATION CENTRE 1992

Having the campus infrastructure made it possible for PS to take up another role – that of documentation. It begins with keeping paper clipping on and about some 110 subjects and events. PS also conducted or promoted a number of studies on various topics and issues, most of them related to the environment and Biodiversity in Goa and about the Western Ghats.

The Studies were the outcome of the activities and engagements of PS and also provided direction and impetus to fresh initiatives. One example of this was the Bio-diversity Workshop organized in 1996 and seminar on medicinal plants of Goa.

Later in 1998, as PS changed its basic strategy and put greater emphasis on national level work, the it would be readily available for consultation and everyday use. Documentation Centre material was handed over to the library of Goa Union of Journalists, Panaji.

YEAR OF STUDY

SUBJECT OF STUDY

NAME OF RESEARCHER / DOCUMENTER
1993 Earthworm Ecology In The Premises of Peaceful Society Mr. Kenneth Rodrigues
  The Oil Palm: Farm Failure or Fabulous Future? Mr. Bonnie A Menezes
1994 Study of Forest Management by People Western Ghats Mr. Pandurang Hegde
1995 Study of Proposed Golf-Course in Goa Mr. Bonnie A Menezes
  Goa’s Coastal Ecosystem Under Attack Mr. Bonnie A Menezes
  Aquatic Pollution in Ponda Taluka Ms. Asha S Nandurmath

Dr. Nandkumar kamat

  Fungal Biodiversity at Peaceful Society Campus Dr. Nandkumar Kamat
  Ecological & Economic Aspects of Alluvial Sand Mining from Terekhol & Colvale Rivers Dr. Nandkumar Kamat

Mr. Vishwas Kesar

Mr. Vithoba Desai

Ms. Kirti Mandrekar

  Ecological & Economic Aspects of Shellfish Exploitation from Colvale Estuarine Ecosystem Dr. Nandkumar Kamat

Mr. Nilesh Vernekar

Ms. Shilpa Narvekar

1998 Awakening of A Village: The Story of the Struggle of the People of Kottukal for Survival Mr. P.M. Dev
1998 – 1999 A Report on Dang Communal Outrage Mr. Anwar Rajan,

Mr. Ramesh Gaus,

Mr. Shekhar Sonalkar and

Ms. Vasanthi Dighe

1999 – 2000 Cultivation and Study of Medicinal Plants at Peaceful Society Campus Ms. Gaytri Pawar

Ms. Pratibha Naik and

Ms. Sujata Menase