My first career was in Agronomy where I obtained a BS and an MS from Lima’s National Agrarian University, Peru. Then, I explored the social sciences and humanities with further educational experiences in Japan, Sierra Leone, USA (BA), and Switzerland (MA). At the present (2021), I am working on a PhD thesis in the Program of International History and Politics at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, Switzerland. My research focuses on the social and political history of Peruvian peasant organizations in the 20th century. Some of these entities have reached global levels as members of transnational networks like Via Campesina.
Peasant Organizations Challenge the Centuries-Old Hacienda System in Peru, 1915-1947
Peruvian historiography often gives too much weight to the State-led Agrarian Reform of 1969 in breaking apart the colonial system of haciendas (estates) that predominated in the nation since the 17th century. This work puts things in perspective by studying how peasant organizations had been challenging the hacienda system since the early decades of the 20th century. Hence, it looks at a peasant association th at originated in the village of Parcona, Ica, in 1915. Its leader, Juan H. Pevez, made trips to Lima to learn from the labor movement and with that experience led his community to win water disputes with abusive haciendas. In Lima, Pevez likewise joined the Tahuantinsuyo Committee in 1919, which soon became a nationwide network of indigenous activists advocating for peasant rights. Furthermore, in 1922 Pevez also assisted yanaconas (estate peasants) from various haciendas of Lima’s surroundings to form their own Yanaconas Federation, thus strengthening peasant resistance not only outside haciendas but also within. These organizations were suppressed by military and oligarchic governments in the 1930s but they laid the foundations for future undertakings. Fruit of their early efforts, the Peasant Confederation of Peru (CCP) was founded in 1947, with Juan H. Pevez as the first General Secretary. CCP then took up the final stretch of the struggle. One of its branches, the Peasant Federation of Cusco, carried out hacienda invasions in the late 1950s under the leadership of Hugo Blanco, which prompted governments to start considering a national agrarian reform in the 1960s.
Affiliation: Graduate Institute of Geneva, Switzerland
Martha Lilly Peediyakkan
Martha Lilly Peediyakkan is a final year PhD scholar and a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Sociology department of the University of Auckland. Martha holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and two master’s degree in public administration (MA and MPhil) with specialization in Development Administration. She also has diverse work experience in the corporate sector, civil society, as well as in academia. This exposure has encouraged her to adopt an inter-disciplinary approach while engaging in her PhD thesis work titled, Hegemonic Land Struggles: A Historical Materialist Study of Sikkim State in India.
From cash crop to carbon crop: The case of large cardamom in Sikkim, India
The ongoing debates on the shift from subsistence agrarian practices to commercial agriculture, supported by the ‘developmental’ moral rhetoric of poverty alleviation, have only gained momentum following the advent of neoliberal land grabbing. This paper intends to contribute to this debate by studying the political economy of global carbon trading, cash crop promotion, and related green grabbing in Sikkim, India. Based on empirical research and a critical analysis of state-NGO reports, the study critiques the state-driven promotion of organic large cardamom production in the Himalayan state. It discusses the transition of large cardamom production practices from traditional indigenous agroforestry to state-driven monocropping of hybrid varieties. It critiques the forest ban imposed on indigenous people that not only led to dwindling crop productivity but also intensified rural disparity. In continuation, empirical evidence highlights that poorly planned developmental projects in the eco-sensitive mountainous terrain of Sikkim have also contributed to the agrarian crisis. In 2018, Sikkim became the first Indian state to adopt 100% organic farming. In recent years, ecologists have emphasized the potential of Sikkim’s organic large cardamom to act as a carbon-sequestering crop making it eligible for carbon funding. This is against the backdrop wherein the processing of large cardamom using renewable energy has already been attracting climate-resilience financing. As of now, following the advent of the REDD+ projects, the state has taken special efforts to attract global carbon trading to ‘enhance’ the production and processing segments of the large cardamom supply chain. The paper argues that the lack of transparency around state-driven carbon trading processes appears to suggest that it is mostly the elites: the state-international aid agency-NGO-traditional landlord nexus that benefits from these initiatives. It highlights how, consequently, the prevalent forms of elitist land grabbing have aggravated in Sikkim. While traditional landlords such as the Kazi class rush to buy off the land from poor indigenous Sikkimese; the state is taking measures to convert fallow land to large cardamom plantations. Overall, the study concludes that more than a cash crop, Sikkim’s organic large cardamom has today transitioned to a carbon crop.
Affiliation: University of Auckland