Category Archive Blog


How pesticide use data are manipulated-a case of AP

These are two tables from the socio economic survey reports of AP from 2010-11 and 2011-12 which explains what public institutions do to support their claims. The
first table shows reduction in pesticide use significantly from 2005-06 reaching almost half by 2010. thats’ the period when the Non Pesticidal Management Program was implemented in the state. of course area under Bt cotton and shift from low volume pesticides to high volume pesticides also helped for this reduction. all the socio economic survey reports till 2010 showed the same trend and also the data on plant protection and quarantine system also is changed.

interestingly they changed the data with retrospective effect   the jump is significant and it is 800% in one year and no one cared to explain why there was a change in data or for that matter why there is such a huge jump.
you can check for yourself the socio economic survey reports here
2011-12 socio economic survey agril
this was mainly to say that agril cannot be done without pesticides.
i have my theory..but want to listen to others….


Anatomy of Agrarian Crisis

Farmers Incomes: NABARD All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey (NAFIS) 2016-17 estimates that an average Indian farming household earned `8,931/month (`1,07, 172/year) in the agriculture year 2015-16. This is up from `2,115 earned in 2002-03 as per NSSO’s SAS, implying a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 12% in nominal terms and 3.7% in real terms (2015-16 base). To achieve the Doubling the Farmers Income (DFI) by 2022-23 as announced by the central government in 2016, farmers’ real incomes need to grow at 10.4% per annum, i.e., 2.8 times the growth rate achieved historically (3.7%) and it has not achieved this. Instead it went down to less than 3.0% by 2017-18 and the achievement was far lower than the targets. With less than two years left its high time we revisited the strategies.
Agri sector contribution to GDP , is moved from 56.5% in 1950-51 to 15.87% in 2018.. Yet 69.43 % (19.5% agriculture workers and 49.93% cultivators) of population was dependent then and 54.6% (29.96% agriculture workers and 24.64% cultivators); but in absolute numbers it still means (144.3 million agriculture workers and 118.7 million cultivators). Tenant farming exists with wide variations across States. It was 20.6 per cent of the operating area according to 8th round of NSSO Report in 1953-54. In 2002-03, it fell sharply to just 6.6 per cent of the operating area. Policymakers focused on abolition of feudal/semi-feudal agrarian structure with tenancy reforms aimed at conferring ownership right to tenants.
But post liberalisation, during 2003-13, tenancy increased to 10.4 per cent according to 70th round of NSSO Report. Andhra Pradesh (35.7 per cent), Bihar (22.7 per cent), Haryana (14.8 per cent), Odisha (16.9 per cent), Tamil Nadu (13.5 per cent) and West Bengal (14.7 per cent) lead the tenancy league, far above the all-India average of 10.4 per cent.
As the Indian economy becomes mature and inclusive, tenancy is likely to further increase. Land being scarce, there is severe demand for it. Urbanisation has made inroads into the rural landscape. Tenancy and sharecropping have become livelihood options in agriculture, to supplement incomes arising out of lesser availability of land.
Small and marginal farmers with less than two hectares of land account for 86.2% of all farmers in India, but own just 47.3% of the crop area, according to the 10th agriculture census 2015-16. In comparison, semi-medium and medium land holding farmers owning between 2-10 hectares of land account for 13.2% of all farmers, but own 43.6% of crop area, the survey showed. During this period the proportion of small and marginal farmers grew from 84.9% to 86.2%, while the total number of operational holdings grew from 138 million to 146 million.
The total area under farming, however, fell from 159.6 million hectares in 2010-11 to 157.14 million hectares in 2015-16.
About 56 % of the total cultivated area (61% of farmers) in India falls under rainfed agriculture. The importance of the rainfed agriculture can be gauged from
the fact that it contributes to 40 % of the country’s food production; accounts for much of the national area under coarse cereals (85%), pulses (83%), oilseeds (70%) and cotton (65%); and holds 60 % of the total livestock populations. But investment on rainfed area is very limited and almost 20 times lower than irrigated areas.
As a result of the changing climate, monsoon rainfall in 2018 was the sixth-lowest since 1901, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). It was also the sixth-warmest year since 1901, when recording started. Further, monsoons in 2019 have also been recorded as the slowest progressing in at least 12 years, IMD data showed. Till July 7, 2019, IMD recorded a rainfall deficit of 21 per cent, while June recorded the second-lowest rainfall in the past seven years after the 42 per cent deficit in 2014.¬†Moreover, 20 states in the country witnessed deficient rainfall, while three were in ‚Äėlarge deficient‚Äô category from June 1 to July 7 this year.
Currently, irrigation consumes 84% of the water (industry 12% and households 4%) Water use in irrigation in India is 2 to 4 times that in USA and China per unit of major crops. Share of canal irrigation in net irrigated area declined from 39.8 % to 23.6 % and Groundwater sources increased from 28.7 % to a whopping 62.4 % between 1950-51 and 2012-13.
The rate of unemployment among men in rural areas between the ages of 15 and 29 years jumped to 17.4% in 2017-‚Äô18 compared to 5% in 2011-‚Äô12. The unemployment rate among women in rural areas stood at 13.6% in 2017-‚Äô18 compared to 4.8% in 2011-‚Äô12, according to the latest NSSO report.¬†Unemployment among youth in urban areas was higher than in rural areas ‚Äď 18.7% for men and 27.2% for women in 2017-‚Äô18.¬†So creating a positive migration of labour to urban areas and to other sectors also seems to be impossible.
Productivity levels of most crops in most of India are much lower than global standards: For example, India is the Second large producer of cotton with 27 million bales (21% of world production) with largest area under cotton cultivation with 12.3 million hectares and constituting about 25% of the world area while yield is estimated at 480 kg/hectare making it rank 36th in terms of per ha productivity.¬†While India is the only country using hybrids in cotton in more than 99% of its cropped area all other countries largely follow high density and Ultra Narrow Planting techniques with straight line varieties.¬†In India rice is grown in 43.86 million ha, the production level is 104.80 million tones and the productivity is about 2390 kg/ha.¬†¬†The highest productivity is 6710 kg per ha of China followed by Vietnam (5573 kg /ha), Indonesia (5152 kg/ha), Bangladesh (4375 kg/ha).¬†India’s wheat average yield in 2013 of 3075 kg/ha is lower than the world average of 3257 kg/ha. India’s best state, Punjab, has paddy yield close to 6000 kg/ha whereas China’s yield is 6709 kg/ha. These variations comes from various reasons including climate, soil type, technology adopted, support systems available and market prices.¬†While largely these differences are attributed only to input use and high input agriculture models are pushed, data and reports show that local agroecological conditions play more important role. For example, yields from temperate areas are higher than tropical areas in general in all crops. Therefore agroecological approaches which takes into account local context is important way forward.
This suggests there is room to improve: This improvement, while keeping it sustainable and not harming soil, will come through more capital investment in soil moisture conservation, irrigation (drip, sprinkler, other water efficiency), husbanding biomass effectively and partnership between research and progressive farmers.
Allied sectors line and associated ecosystems will also need attention, like catchment area of tanks and rivers, watersheds, bio diversity, and move towards agro ecology.
Precision agriculture models and farming in controlled conditions like polyhouses, hydroponics, aquaponics etc give new opportunities much more research is needed to make them economically and ecologically sustainable. currently they are highly energy and chemical intensive.
Then talk about how even when people are migrating to cities, large numbers go back to village for the kharif crop; the sense of community, of belonging there as well as ability to grow the cereal crops for consumption continues to be important social and livelihood strategy.
Around 67 per cent of total operational land holdings in India are owned by marginal farmers, with an average size of 0.39 hectare1 (GoI a). A farm size of less than a hectare, irrespective of its efficiency, may hold only a limited livelihood potential. Yet, majority of land holdings in India are less than a hectare. The average farm size of land holding for a marginal farmer has remained unchanged between 2000-01 and 2010-11 at around 0.4 hectare. The incomes of the farmers comes from four different sources. At the national level the average monthly income of farmers is Rs. 6426 which comes from cultivation (47.9%), livestock (32.2%), wages (11.9%) and other petty businesses (8%) while for small and marginal farmers (86.2%) who cultivate less than 2 ha of land income from livestock is much higher compared to cultivation. Therefore diversifying assets and income sources becomes more important for small and marginal farmers to achieve decent income.
While government supports farming through various schemes, the last mile delivery of support services is always a failure. This is due to wrong design of the schemes and subsidies e.g, entire support for managing soils and fertility are through chemical fertilisers (Rs. 79,000 Cr in 2019-20) it is available only to those who uses them. farmers practicing organic and natural farming cannot access such support. similarly big ticket subsidies like polyhouses (approximately Rs. 35 lakhs per unit) are on increase, small ticket subsidies are on decline. The second problem is due to lack of identity for cultivators. Today only means of identifying farmers is through land title and all supports for farming use this as the identification mechanism. in a situation where tenancy is increasing the tenant farmers are kept out of the ambit of any of these support systems. for e.g. interest subvention on crop loans is goes to land owners only. tenant farmers have to take loans from private money lender at interest rates as high as 10% per month.
As the income of the farmers were not going up,the Centre announced what they call as Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman on the lines of Direct Income Support measure like Rytubandu in Telengana and KALIA in Odisha. Similarschemes were announced by other states like Krishi Krishak Bandhu by West Bengal and YSR Rytu Barosa (earlier Annadata Sukhibava) by government of Andhra Pradesh. Unfortunately, all these schemes have picked random numbers in terms of support provided under Direct Income Support and has not made any effort to institutionalise the process, linking it to the inflation like the salaries of the employees. Another major problem is all these support measures are linked to land ownership. This excludes large numbers of tenant farmers. Measures like this along with interest subvention on farm credit, disaster compensations, income tax exemptions going for land owners, more incentives are created for landowning and less and less for cultivation. This is creating a disastrous situation in states where tenant farmers numbers are in high.
The inputs costs are increasing and net incomes of the farmers are going down significantly. for example, average gross income from cotton cultivation was Rs. 73200 /ha (2010-15) while net income was Rs. 9259 /ha. Net income showed a negative trend during 2010-15 while the gross income remained stagnant. Net income decreased from Rs. 24682 /ha (2010-11) to Rs. 15604 /ha (2013-14) and it was negative (Rs. 6318 /ha) during 2014-15. Average cost of cultivation increased from Rs. 31817/ha (2005-10) to Rs. 63941/ha (2010-15). This is mainly due to the increase in the operational costs (72%). Same is the case with most of the crops. While Minimum Support Prices are announced for more than 24 crops only 2 crops (paddy and wheat) have regular procurement and more than 70% of the produce is procured only from 3-5 states.


Direct Income Support measures across states in India

One significant shift in agriculture policy discourse in the country is a shift towards direct income support measures.¬†Several states have already announced their own versions of the scheme Telangana (Rytu bandhu), Odisha (Kalia) and Andhra Pradesh (Annadata Sukhibava). The latest to join the race is the Central government with the announcement of ‚ÄúPradhan Mantri KIsan SAmman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)‚ÄĚ.
While the basic principle of all these schemes is to provide direct income support to farmers, each one of them vary in design, scope and there by impacts.
Rytu Bandhu (Telangana): Telangana governments calls it as Investment Support Agriculture and Horticulture crops by way of grant of Rs. 4,000/- per acre per farmer each season for purchase of inputs like Seeds, Fertilizers, Pesticides, Labour and other investments in the field operations of Farmer’s choice for the crop season. Telangana govt has allocated Rs. 12,000 crore for the scheme.
Some features and issues
1.      It is disbursed in two instalments.
2.      Only land owners are considered as beneficiaries
3.      No cap on the maximum land holding hence no cap on amount paid.
KALIA (Odisha): Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation was announced by the Odisha government with a budget allocation of Rs. 10,000 cr. The scheme has five different components.
 1.      Support for Cultivation: 30 lakh small and marginal farmers will be provided Rs 10,000 per family as assistance for cultivation. Each family will get Rs 5,000 separately in the kharif and rabi seasons, for five cropping seasons between 2018-19 and 2021-22
2.      Support for Livelihoods: 5 lakh landless households, and specifically SC and ST families will be supported with a unit cost of Rs 12,500 for activities like goat rearing, mushroom cultivation, beekeeping, poultry farming and fishery.
3.      Financial Assistance: up to Rs. 10.00 lakhs to vulnerable agriculture households and land less labour
4.      Life Insurance cover: of Rs. 2.00 lakhs and additional personal accident cover of Rs. 2.00 lakhs to 57 lakh households of cultivators and landless agricultural labor.
5.      Interest free crop loans: to all farmers upto Rs. 50,000
Annadatha Sukhibava (Andhra Pradesh): on the lines of Telangana AP government is proposing to pay Rs. 10,000 per year (Rs. 5000 per season) per acre from next financial year. This year farmers may be payed Rs. 2500/acre. About 96 lakh farmers are expected to benefit from the scheme. The state government is considering to distribute this amount equally between land owner and the tenant farmers. The details of the scheme are awaited.
PM Kisan (Central Government):  Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land up to 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of `6,000 per year.
1.      This income support will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal instalments of ` 2,000 each.
2.      Around 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are expected to benefit from this.
3.      The programme would be made effective from 1 st December 2018 and the first instalment for the period up to 31st March 2019 would be paid during this year itself.
4.      This programme will entail an annual expenditure of ` 75,000 crore.
The limitations of these initiatives
While shift towards Direct Income Support measures is in itself an innovation, not enough care has been taken in designing these measures and institutional mechanism for determining the quantum of support, mechanism to identify and deliver to targeted community and plans to long term sustainability is missing. For example
·        Income Support vs Investment Support: Direct Income Support measures can to cover the gap in income which the families fall below a minimum income level needed for a dignified living, while Direct Income Support measures for investment support a livelihood activity is when such activity becomes unremunerative and the gap is supported.   While the Telangana and AP initiatives fall in investment support category, the Odisha and Central govt initiatives fall under the livelihood support.
·        Determining the quantum of support: In either case, there seems to be no data or rational number crunching to arrive at the magic figure of the support. Like why Rs. 6000/- per family per year or why Rs. 4000 per acre per year. There should be an institutional mechanism to make an assessment of the quantum of support and link it to inflation to have annual upgradation like the dearness allowance for employees. In case of Telangana as it took per acre approach, small farmers who have less than an acre also got very little amount in proportion to their land. Rather it should be a fixed amount below a 1 ha and above that it can be proportional to the land size. There is also need to fix a maximum ceiling else land accumulation would be encouraged.
·        Identifying the target community: The main objective of the direct income support is to support the short fall in income. In that case, it should focus on cultivators irrespective of their land ownership status. Telangana state has completely gone wrong on this front while AP govt said they will ensure 50% sharing (why 50% share to land owner is not clear). The Odisha govt said they will target the cultivators and yet to see how they do it. In case of PM Kisan it also seems to be based on land ownership. There is a requirement for developing approaches for better targeting.
Why this shift is needed?
NSSO 70th Round shows the monthly income (from all sources including labor, livestock, farming etc.) of farmers who own less than one hectare of land and who make up about 81.83% of the total farming population, is less than their monthly expenditure.
§ The economic crisis in agriculture is caused by
·        Increasing costs of agriculture: The costs of cultivations are increasing at a significant rate. More dependency on external input, deregulation of input prices, general increase in cost of wage labor and land prices led to increasing costs of cultivation many folds.
·        Increasing risk in farming:  due to climate, and ecological unsustainability of current agriculture
·        Decreasing government support: deregulation of inputs, shift towards high ticket subsidies, subsidies being imbedded in inputs and inaccessibility of support systems like institutional credit for tenant farmers etc have led to increased cost burden on the farmers.
·        Un-remunerative prices and small farmers being disadvantaged in the market. Non-remunerative prices, without sufficient margins above the cost of cultivation, have been a major reason for farmers not earning sufficient income. Many improvements have been made in the CACP and the system of Minimum Support Prices (MSP), however many issues remain with determining and delivering MSP. There is also a limitation on increasing prices of agricultural commodities, particularly on food items, considering the needs of the consumers and industry.
·        Increasing costs of living: due to general inflation, with drawl of public services in the area of primary health and primary education have led to increase in costs of living
Now each individual farmer is left to balance between all these factors and is suffering with negative income. But it should be the government‚Äôs responsibility at a policy level to balance these factors of costs, risks, subsidies, prices and costs of living ‚Äď so that a minimum positive income is assured.
Therefore, there is a need to look at a farmer Income Security as a Policy framework rather than depending solely only on pricing policy for farm produce or direct income support or loan waivers in order to improve the quality of life of farmers. The Policy should focus on bringing economic sustainability in farming, ensuring secure incomes. This will not only address the distress among farmers, but also generate a positive dynamic in the entire rural economy by enabling farmers to make positive investments into agriculture, by increasing their purchasing power, and by retaining more youth in rural areas.
The policy frame work should ensure that the incomes of the farmers are adequate and assured. This can only be assured when all support systems for farming including extension services, affordable access to productive resources like land, water and seeds, credit, insurance, marketing, infrastructure are ensured to all the farmers. This also needs a lot of improvements in the governance of current support systems, improving the last mile delivery and better targeting.
Farmers Income Security and Direct Income Support
·        The Farmers’ Income Security system should be established through an Act which derives from the Article 21 of the Constitution establishing the Right to Life. This ensures that the institutional systems are responsive and accountable to the farmers. A Farmers Income Commission should be established to implement Income Security. This should be a permanent, statutory body which includes farmer representatives. Income Assessment of agricultural families should be done on a regular basis, tracking the incomes of farming households in terms of various regions, crops and categories.
·        Even while the Act may take time to be passed, an immediate step would be to revamp the existing Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices, to include the mandate of Incomes in addition to costs and prices. The Commission should immediately put in place the mechanism for annual Income Assessment.
·        The commission should identify Minimum Living Income which needs to be ensured. All the initiatives should target at achieving this. This is also important to fix the Direct Income Support measure. We can look at different ways of determining the desired minimum income level.
·        Minimum Wages approach: As per the Minimum Wages announced by the Central government (Order, September 30, 2016), the minimum wages for a Highly Skilled Worker is Rs.259 per day. Farming being multi-skilled work which combines several diverse operations and complex decision-making should be definitely categorized as Highly Skilled Work. Assuming 2 working persons per family, the minimum monthly household income is Rs.15,540. Note that this figure just considers it as wage labour and does not have any component for the managerial role and the risk-taking financial investment.
·        Parity approach: Pay commission’s definition considers two major points: living expenditure and ability to attract talent; but when it comes to agriculture government considers consumer affordability.
§ The A.P. government, while revising employee salaries in 2014, listed the expenditure on food, water, clothes, education, transport, health, consumables, and so on, to determine the Minimum Pay for employees. This came to Rs.13,000 per month for a household of 3 persons, Rs.17,333 for 4 persons and Rs.21,667 for 5 persons. In addition, the government allocated a school fees allowance of Rs.2500 per child, house rent allowance (12.5%), employees health insurance, etc. Considering a bare minimum family of 4 persons with school allowance for 2 children and no other allowance, this comes to Rs.22,333 per month.
·        Target real cultivators: The real cultivators should be identified who might be tenant farmers or sharecroppers, and they should benefit rather than absentee landlords. Recognition of tenant farmers, women farmers and Adivasi farmers who are currently left out of support systems is a must. Any support is made contingent on actual cultivation. Since the system is based on a minimum income level per household, it will benefit small farmers instead of disproportionately benefiting large farmers.
·        Direct Income Support: Direct Income Support has to be calculated as the short fall of real income than the Minimum Living Income, it can be paid as Direct Income Support.   This also needs to be indexed to the inflation.