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