Dev Krishnan Anil


Research Cluster


Prof. Dr. Michelle Williams, University of Witwatersrand

Prof. Dr. Christoph Scherrer, University of Kassel

PhD Project Title

Cooperation in Production as an Alternative for the Global South: An Exploratory Study of the Kudumbashree Farm Collectives of Kerala


The historical trajectory of capitalist accumulation showcases an ever-constant process of dispossession of the rights, encroachment over the resources, and displacement of people from their own habitats. The past few decades have witnessed an incessant onslaught of capital over petty production in countries of the South. The small and marginal farmers in the South have born the major brunt of this process exasperated by neoliberal globalization. They have been pauperised in their own homes, marginalized from their lands and denied any control over natural resources, thereby preventing them from having a decent livelihood from agriculture (Patnaik, 2003). In countries such as India, the incomes of the small and marginal farmers have seen a progressive decline since the economic reforms of 1991, with the resource base rapidly shrinking. Corporate land grab, cuts in subsidies, increasing cost of inputs, inequitable distribution of agricultural prosperity within the rural sector have all led to a forced exodus of small farmers from agriculture with thousands giving up their lives through suicide. A resolution to this crisis is beyond the scope of the growth model India has adopted since the last few decades.

It is in this context that an alternative approach to development with an alternative vision of resolution of the agrarian question needs further inquiry. As the neoliberal globalization engulfs the whole Global South, the questions of national sovereignty and imperial domination need to be part of the discourse on the agrarian question. Such an approach requires peasantry to be seen as an agent of development in the Global South, emphasizing on the role of the State in regulating and protecting the markets, in the face of corporate-imperialist attack, while taking efforts to cooperativize peasant production (Moyo, Jha, & Yeros, 2013).

Many have argued that a collective approach to farming, through bottom-up agricultural cooperative production networks offers substantial scope for the alleviation of poverty, empowerment of the poor, and enhancement of agricultural productivity (Karatepe & Scherrer, 2019). A successful model of cooperation under the given strenuous conditions in the Global South has been the Kudumbashree mission in the state of Kerala in India. Initially begun as a poverty alleviation mission of the state government, Kudumbashree has grown to become Asia’s largest movement for the socio-economic empowerment of women. Though studies have been conducted on the success story of Kudumbashree in various sectors, a thorough exploration into the collective farming groups of Kudumbashree is absent. While a few studies have shown the effect Kudumbashree’s collective farms has had on enhancing agricultural productivity and sustainability (Venktraman, 2014) (Appukuttan, 2018) (Anand & Maskara, 2014) (Kumaramkandath & Verghese, 2016), there exists a need for further inquiry into the Kudumbashree model, the qualitative change it has brought about in the material living conditions of its members and the potential it offers as a transformative approach to development. This study would thereby try to delve into these themes and explain the Kudumbashree’s collective farming model at greater depth.

Educational Background

  • 2018: Master of Arts in Development and Labour Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
  • 2015: Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad, India.

Professional Experience

  • Research Internships at various think-tanks, NGOs and other socio-political organizations

Social/Political Activities

  • Member of Students’ Federation of India