The opposition is baying for the government’s blood over demonetisation and GST. The first is done and over with. But its effects are not yet over. The second has been modified to assuage large sections of the population.
What the data shows on farm incomes, and whether farmers can make ends meet
How profitable is farming? The answer to this most fundamental question about Indian agriculture can be found in the National Sample Survey Office’s new surveyof India’s agricultural households.
The average farm household makes Rs 6,426 per month. Where does this money come from? Farm households do a mix of jobs, the data shows.
How much exactly does growing a crop earn a household? The chart below shows the value of the harvested crop for a household that predominantly grows that crop, over a six-month agricultural season. Sugarcane is by far the most profitable crop to grow, while paddy (or wheat in the first half of the year) brings a household around Rs 30,000 for a six month season.
Who are most farmers selling their crops to? First of all, over half of wheat and rice grown is not sold at all, and is purely for the farm household’s consumption. Of what is sold, the vast majority is sold to the private trader, and not the state-run mandi or procurement agency. Among those who sell to the procurement agency, a minority report having got the Minimum Support Price for their produce.
Farmers often talk about the high – and rising – costs of inputs, including water, seeds and pesticides. So how does the output they earn compare with the inputs they put into the land?
Input costs work out to nearly 30 per cent of the total output an average farm household gets from a crop.
Among inputs, fertilizers are the most expensive, followed by labour.
Does this income get the family through the month? For this, I compared income and consumption expenditure for farm households by the size of their landholdings.
As you can see, a farm household needs to have at least 1 hectare of land to make ends meet every month. But given that over 65 per cent of households have less than one hectare of land, this means that two out of three farm households are simply not able to make ends meet.
Unsurprisingly, what this translates into is debt. Over half of all agricultural households are indebted, and these are not small debts; the average loan amount outstanding for a farm household in India today is Rs. 47,000. For marginal farmers, making under Rs 4,000 per month, which doesn’t even cover their consumption, loans of over Rs 30,000 must be extremely heavy burdens.
The southern states stand out for their level of indebtedness.
Who are farmers borrowing from? Marginal farmers rely chiefly on moneylenders, while those with bigger landholdings go to banks, the data shows.
This paper explores how to apply the concept ‘Living Wage’ that is used in industry , in agriculture; Use o f t his concept may be useful to arrive at a definition o f ‘fair’ prices the agricultural producer should receive for his products.
Based on existing Living Wage definitions, a definition is proposed that can be used in agriculture and rural development. Explained is how the use of the concept is influenced by both an ethical approach and market prices that result from supply and demand. The result of the use of the Living Wage concept in agriculture and rural development may lead to better decisions at policy level.
HYDERABAD: A report released by National Sample Survey Organization ( NSSO) reveals that farmers in rural India spend less than Rs 35 a day. The situation in the rural hinterland of Andhra Pradesh is no better with monthly expenditure hovering at Rs 1,234 per person (or Rs 41 per day).
This when the monthly income of farmers in rural areas is being pegged at Rs 1,054 and at Rs 1,984 for their counterparts in urban areas. Expressing concern over the widening income-expenditure gap, professor Aldus Janayya of Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University told TOI that the incomes of 84% of the members of the farming community is less than what they spend.
How do the peasants then overcome this gap? Ryots opt for loans at high rates of interest, work as farm labourers/coolies and labour at construction sites. Analysts say that lack of support price for various crops, income security and increased input costs has led to dipping incomes, higher expenses and distress migration among farmers.
“In states like Maharashtra, there is a major shift from agricultural to the horticultural sector. Their farmers have better incomes than our ryots,” said KR Choudary, former advisor to the central government on agriculture.
Thanks to the diminishing incomes from farming, peasant migration has assumed significant proportions in districts like Mahbubnagar, Karimnagar, Anantapur, Adilabad, Prakasam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam where cultivators are altogether shunning agriculture. “Most of the construction workers in Hyderabad hail from the north coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh while farmers from Mahbubnagar and Anantapur head towards Maharashtra and Gujarat to look for work as labourers at construction sites,” an expert pointed out.
The worst hit are the marginal and small farmers. In 2010-11, the farmers got Rs 6,500 (per quintal) for cotton, Rs 14,000 for turmeric and Rs 12,000 for chilli. But their rates fell to Rs 3,500, Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,500, respectively, in 2011-12.
“The steep fall in remunerative prices has forced us to abandon cultivation. I am working as a construction labourer but neither is that fetching me much,” said Sidda Naidu, who migrated to Hyderabad from Vizianagram.
Agricultural activists blame the government for the present mess. “Paddy is procured by the government, which fixes a low remunerative price. How do the farmers recoup their losses?” pointed out GV Ramanjaneyulu of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture.
NAGPUR: The green revolution increased productivity of all crops and helped developing countries like India feed their populations. However, sadly, it could never improve the farmers’ economic condition, said former chairman of Agriculture Scientists Recruitment Board CD Mayee on Monday. He was delivering the Juwarkar memorial lecture at National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (Neeri).
Mayee said the benefits actually percolated down more to the input industries like seed, fertilizer and pesticide industries. “Also, though the green revolution increased the production of food grains manifold, it destroyed soil fertility to an extent that scientists are now careful while working in the direction of second green revolution to conserve all natural resources like soil, water, environment,” he said.
Mayee described the second green revolution as specifically aimed at increasing productivity without compromising on soil quality, while utilizing available land and water resources. “The first green revolution was based on a tripod strategy of improving seed quality through geneticimprovement, water availability and use of chemicals (fertilizers and pesticides). This led to depletion of soil fertility, pollution of natural resources with increase in cost of cultivation. The second revolution tripod includes sustainability and environmental safety,” he said.
The second revolution should bring additional 12 million hectare waste land into net cultivable area, enhance irrigated area to 85 million hectare from existing 60 million hectare, strengthenfarmers markets and rural storages, create infrastructure, increase investment in agriculture in both private and public sector, and farm resource management. It also involves an increase of sales in seeds, fertilizers, farm mechanization, and credit flow growth rate from 25 to 40% ratio. With all these, food grain production is expected to reach 400 million tons.
Mayee said area under agriculture has increased from 131.89 million hectare in 1951-52 to 172.63m ha in 1980-81, and then to 195.10m ha in 2010-11. There was also an increase in gross irrigation from 22.56m ha to 49.78m ha and 88.43m ha during the same years. The consumption of fertilizers has increased from just 0.66kg/ha in 1951-52 to 210kg/ha in 2010-11. But the contribution of agriculture to GDP has fallen from 35% to 30 and then to 15% in 2010-11. There has been an overall growth of food grains from 203.41 million tons in 2000-01 to 320 million tons in 2011-12, an annual growth of 4.21%. These figures for fruits are 152.50 million tons in 2000-01 to 300 million tons in 2011-12, which again means an annual growth of 6.36%.
Earlier, Tapas Nandi, head of waste water technology division of Neeri and acting director, appraised the gathering about the contributions of Ashok Juwarkar, who died in a plane accident while on duty. Juwarkar is known for his immense contribution in converting barren mine dumps into fertile areas. He said Neeri continues to work in the area and has rejuvenated many mine dumps around the city into extremely fertile land and grown lush green trees on them.
Authors: Sarthak Gaurav and Srijit Mishra
Title: Size-class and Returns to Cultivation in India: A Cold Case Reopened
This paper investigates the relationship between returns to cultivation per hectare and size-class of land cultivated in India, using unit level data from the 59th round National Sample Survey, 2003. The analysis is done separately for ‘kharif’ and ‘rabi’ – for total value of cultivation from all crops at the all India level. The empirical evidence rejects the null hypothesis of no relationship and points to the existence of an inverse association. We argue that the efficiency of the small-holders has to be taken with a pinch of salt because their low absolute returns brings into focus the question of their livelihood sustainability which is further aggravated on account of higher unit costs. Being the first exercise in a series of proposed explorations into disaggregated analyses across states, and for specific crops, it opens up the classic debate on farm size and productivity in the 21st century.
Key words: agrarian crisis, agriculture, efficiency, livelihood sustainability, NSS, productivity, size-class.
JEL Codes: O13, Q12