• Workshop

Local Food System of Pondicherry

22 - 25 January 2020

Local food system of Pondicherry: A discussion on food sovereignty and agro-ecology transition

January 22nd to 25th 2020
Organised by the French Institute of Pondicherry In coordination with the Agriculture Department of Pondicherry 

The design of the meeting is organised in three-day activities:

22nd - 23rd January – Conferences and participatory debate at the French Institute on City region food system and discussion with urban citizens.

24th January: Site visit of organic farming and public debate on the food system in practice.

25th January:  Exhibition on organic food in the street adjacent to French Institute. The organic producers invite the public to visit their stall and discuss with them on their value addition of their production including the revival of millets and traditional seeds. There will be discussion on the food recipe and sharing of food.


Objectives of the workshop

The objective is to introduce a discussion on the concept of “local food systems”. How can it apply to Pondicherry, at the local scale, and make sense for a diversity of actors? By planning this event every year in January, we wish to put this question on the political agenda.

We propose to take on the challenge of how we can create a collaborative network that integrates sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption in order to enhance environmental, economic, and social health in the particular context of Pondicherry. This platform should permit collectively thinking, discussing and suggesting specific actions on what are the ‘food priorities’ of the Pondicherry communities?

We are organizing a 4-day workshop with different activities and modalities of interaction: i) talks and debates (from January 22nd to 23rd) on the concept of “City-region food system” and around three controversies with researchers, urban and rural citizens, farmers, food processors and urban consumers, ii) site visits to organic farms (January 24th), iii) an organic food exhibition (January 25th) in the street adjacent to IFP (with food stands and food-sharing to raise awareness and the desire to get involved in changing practices).

The three controversies and the objectives of the debates are:

  • Despite the agricultural modernization of the Green Revolution, India has preserved, in certain contexts, a diversity of production around native and indigenous seeds. The preservation of these seeds is a political struggle led by social movements (which may include urban consumers), peasant organisations, NGOs and activists, united around the movement for agroecology. How to build bridges with urban consumers to shape a political alliance and shake up public policies in favor of agroecology?
  • PDS is in India a unique system of food redistribution to combat food insecurity. The transition to a monetary distribution upsets the foundations of the agreement with the society. Feminist movements have mobilized against these changes in Pondicherry. The aim of the debate is to reflect on the implications of this proposal of direct cash transfer and to discuss the arguments for and against because this is a major societal debate around food justice.
  • The changes in production systems analysed during the first debate have effects on changes in food systems, at the family level in particular and consequently on public health. What are the projects that enhance the food quality of rural and urban households, while preserving biodiversity and natural resources such as water, and improving livelihood conditions?

The concepts we are going to discuss during these four days are those of local food system, food sovereignty, social and environmental justice and agroecology. Agroecology questions the dominant and interdependent global agricultural and food models and their socio-economic and environmental consequences. Agroecology sustains autonomy via appropriate techniques and social interactions (technologies called "social", exchange of seeds, consumer groups, direct sales, etc.) on the basis of a renewed relationship with "nature" (agricultural diversification, respect for natural cycles and ecosystems). The speakers also question these debates according to an approach based on social gender relations. This is why, the first two days of the program are included in a twoyear seminar on Gender and Development that the French Institute is organising with Pondicherry University in order to raise a discussion on gender and agroecology.


For more information and full schedule, please visit https://www.ifpindia.org/content/workshop-local-food-system-pondicherry-discussion-food-sovereignty-and-agro-ecology


9:00 - 17:00


French Institute of Pondicherry
No. 11, Post Box No. 33, Saint Louis Street,
Pondicherry Puducherry 605 001


Hélène Guétat-Bernard: helene.guetat@ifpindia.org 

Venkatasubramanian: venkat@ifpindia.org