A decade that failed the farmer

A decade that failed the farmer


60% of farmers continued to be outside the radar of govt extension services and without any access to modern technology

In the 10 years to 2013, the life of the average Indian farmer showed no improvement — it either stagnated or deteriorated.
That’s the conclusion that can be drawn by a comparison of the Key Indicators of Situation of Agricultural Households in India (2012-13), a survey recently released by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), with the first such report issued in 2003.
In that decade, land holdings became more fragmented—nearly 87% of families owned less than 2 hectares, while the proportion of rural households for which agriculture was the principal source of income increased from 34% to 37%. This could be due to a change in definition of the farmer household—the latest survey counts in families that did not possess or operate any land, provided they received more than  3000 from agricultural activities and had at least one member self-employed in agriculture either in the principal status or subsidiary status during the last year.

The income and expenditure data shows that many farming households continue to live a hand-to-mouth existence. In real terms, there has been hardly any increase in expenditure on productive assets. A big surprise here: the contribution of wages to incomes came down from 39% in 2003 to 32% in 2012-13, despite the introduction of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, now in its ninth year.

It’s a wonder then that agriculture (or perhaps the farmer) delivered a growth rate of 4.1% (in agriculture GDP) in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-2012).


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