Periodic Markets and Rural Transformation in Gonda District, Uttar Pradesh, India

Article excerpt

Periodic markets are centers for exchange of common goods and services, in both cities and the countryside, all over the world. Held at a regular time and place, these markets link small towns and their surroundings to create grassroots-level networking trade systems throughout the developing world. For impoverished and less-industrialized economies, periodic markets are the logical and appropriate places for peasant families to obtain goods and information.

Organized in a rational manner, a region's several periodic markets require spatial and temporal integration to work smoothly: meeting days are distributed among the seven days of the market week, with schedules taking into consideration the convenience of both traders and consumers. Diverse services are available at each market, including the buying and selling of local perishable and fragile commodities such as vegetables or earthenware pots; and employment opportunities are available for trading and other activities. Also, farmers can easily obtain fertilizers, seeds, insecticides and pesticides; and periodic markets offer the raw materials for household-level industries, bringing development to rural areas.

The origin of periodic markets

An important puzzle for geographers and planners has been to determine the genesis of periodic markets. Two main theories emerge from research to date. The first is the indigenous concept: that periodic markets developed as a result of internal demand for exchange of goods and services among local communities. The exogenous concept credits external stimuli, such as the incursion into a local area of long distance traders, for the start of periodic markets.

Our research indicates that socio-economic factors have played a vital role in the location of Gonda District's periodic markets. History reveals that the majority of markets today are held in those villages that were once the residential seats of powerful landlords. During India's pre-independence era (the Republic of India dates from 1947), the permission of this elite, high-caste group, known as Zimindars, was needed for any socio-economic decision made by the peasants who tilled the land. Gonda District's periodic markets have emerged partly as a result of the prestige, competition, and family feuds among the Zimindars, and partly from natural needs, especially since independence (see Table 1, "Facts and Figures Regarding the Origin of Periodic Markets").

Since 1947, this area has witnessed a breakthrough in farming and industrial development. Huge surpluses and outputs have been recorded: new markets were needed to sell this surplus. Once a road network was built, markets sprang up to meet the needs of agriculture and rural industry.

Gonda District's periodic markets and trade

Gonda District's periodic markets bring together the region's agricultural products at the most local level of agricultural trading. In addition to the buying and selling of farm improvements such as pesticide and fertilizer, marketable crop surpluses are bought and sold at these markets. This provides producers [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE 1 OMITTED] with the cash they need to pay for the annual round of festivals and marriages, as well as for next season's crop seeds. Located in the southern section of Gonda District, the three periodic markets of Maddo Bazar, Sadullah Nagarm, and Kazipur account for the sale of 90 percent of the area's surplus vegetable production.

Indian handicrafts have, since antiquity, been sold at periodic markets. During the centuries of British rule, handicrafts moved into the international market from the local, village-level markets. Industrial modernization has led to a drop in the production of handicrafts and a resultant drop in the self-sufficiency of local villages, as their residents increasingly turn to cash-based jobs in modern factories. The post-independence revolutions in farming and industry have led to a shift in the type and quality of processed goods traded in Gonda District's periodic markets. …