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Case #516

Bangladeshi Village Counters World Bank Philosophy


There often seems a kind of inevitability to modernity, a sense in the developing world that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund will eventually drag every last village kicking and screaming into the low-wage, high-margin world of global corporatized capitalism. But the people of Gorasin, Bangladesh, aren't buying it.

At the center of this revolution is the Nayakrishi, or "New Agriculture," movement, which arose a decade ago in response to villagers' concerns about pesticides. Nayakrishi promotes farming methods developed over millennia to sustain local economies and strengthen local culture. Rather than pursue models of development based largely an urbanization, cheap labor, and agricultural exports, Nayakrishi puts its faith in Bangladesh's fertile soil.

Nayakrishi has restored women to their former role as advisors of what a good seed is, what will germinate, how to store it. Likewise, it has freed farmers from the constraints of industrialized farming. At a Nayakrishi training school near Gorasin, for instance, farmers have worked together to assemble and catalog a gene bank that includes 300 varieties of local rice, 20 types of bitter gourd, and 84 kinds of beans.

The spirit of Nayakrishi is active in other areas of development as well. Microcredit programs are helping peasants finance rooftop solar systems and biogas generators for their cook stoves.


Nayakrishi is a Third World success story on several levels ? agricultural, social, small-scale energy and microcredit. Still, it has been hard to convince World Bank officials to seriously consider Nayakrishi as a viable development strategy because it doesn?t fit the agency?s development model. Says Farhad Mazhar, a founder of the Center for Development Alternatives in the capital city of Dhaka: ?It's time to look beyond the experts. Absolutely we would be better off if everyone trying to `help' us just went home. If they did, then the people in the country would be able to come up with their own ideas."
Location: Bangladesh
Action: Restoration
Setting: Third World
Extent of Action: Local
Issues: Agriculture
Year(s): 1990
Outcome successful
Source: Utne Reader, September-October 2001, p. 18


Prepared By: sl 1/02
Rating: 1
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