Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The “Gene Revolution” and the Socio-Ecological Sustainability of Agriculture: Ashok Kumbamu's PhD Work

Hometown: Azmapur, Andhra Pradesh, India
University: University of Alberta
Award: IDRC Doctoral Research Award
PhD thesis topic: The “Gene Revolution” and the Socio-Ecological Sustainability of Agriculture: A Comparative Study of the Adoption of Genetically Modified Crops

Research location: Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh, India, and Alberta, Canada

Kumbamu hopes his research will benefit the entire intellectual community, farmers’ organizations, and policymakers as they debate technological interventions and their new roles in agriculture. He plans to extend his studies to environmental issues and the organic movement.

Kumbamu, who comes from a family of rice farmers in Azmapur, Andhra Pradesh, was interested in the factors that influence farmers’ decisions to change crops. Those factors, he discovered, include social relationships based on class and caste, and that the decision to switch can affect relationships between women and men.

After graduating with a BA from Nizam College, Osmania University in Hyderabad, India, Kumbamu took a MA in development studies at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, followed by some PhD course work at the National University of Singapore. He came to the University of Alberta to complete his doctorate in 2004.

Kumbamu designed and administered surveys and conducted interviews and focus groups with more than 100 farmers. He also documented in-depth life histories from 12 farmers spanning different generations. To complete his research, he plans to compare these experiences to those of Alberta farmers using GM crops

For Ashok Kumbamu, the highlight of the research was listening to the farmers speak of their lives and experiences, and letting them know that the same global processes are affecting others around the world.