The Samir Amin Young Scholars’ Prize in Political Economy of Development has been instituted by the Editorial Board of Agrarian South in honour of Amin’s exemplary intellectual courage and path-breaking contribution to the study of the capitalist world economy and the challenges faced especially by the peoples of the South. The prize was announced in 2019 and an invitation for previously unpublished articles was publicised. Eligibility for the prize was limited to Masters or Doctoral students, or those who had received a Doctoral degree within the last five years. Nonetheless, the receipt of adequate articles was not forthcoming, which behoved us to change strategy and adopt the common practice of awarding the prize to eligible authors whose articles have already obtained publication in the journal. We thus resolved to consider articles published in Agrarian South over the last two years by authors who fit the eligibility criteria – and to establish this as the definitive selection procedure. From now on, the Prize will be awarded every two years to an author whose article has been published in our journal and is either a postgraduate student or received a Doctoral degree within five years of publication of the article.
For the first Samir Amin Prize, the Editorial Board considered six eligible articles. We are pleased to announce that Editorial Board has awarded the Prize to Manish Kumar, a Doctoral student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, for his article entitled ‘India’s Rice Export: What is in it for Farmers’, published in the special issue on Global Agricultural Values Systems: Trends and Alternatives (Vol. 8, Nos. 1–2, 2019). Kumar’s article provides a conceptually refined and empirically rigorous study of the economic impacts of rice exports on farmers and other actors involved in paddy value systems in India. He notes the importance of India’s rice exports, which command the highest share in the country’s total agricultural exports, and paddy cultivation, which involves almost half of India’s agricultural households. Kumar analyses the production trends of basmati and non-basmati rice since trade liberalization and demonstrates the differentiation of each crop among classes of producers, as well as the vulnerability of excessive specialization manifest in the reduction of buffer stocks and exposure to volatile world prices. Kumar demonstrates in detail the mechanisms by which small producers get squeezed in these values systems, providing strong evidence of the perverse effects of exposure of small producers to the influence of world market forces. Our congratulations to Manish Kumar!