Topic: General Studies 2 & 3:
- Agricultural issues and Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support price
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
The COVID-19 crisis is affecting rural India especially at a time when agriculture is already in a distress situation.
Agricultural distress Causing Migration
- According to the 2011 census, 3.5 million migrants moved within the last one year due to economic reasons.
- The corresponding numbers for the 2001 and 1991 census, were, respectively, 2.2 and 1.4 million.
Do You Know?
- Majority of the migrant workers send 25 to 50 per cent of their monthly income to their families back home.
- In Bihar, these remittances accounted for 35.6 per cent of gross state domestic product in 2011-12, up from 11.6 per cent in 2004-05
Issues with Agricultural Sector
- Increasing Rural-Urban gap
- In 2008, the rural-urban gap was at 45% in terms of average revenue — versus 10% for China and Indonesia.
- The rural monthly per capita expenditure declined 8.8% from Rs 1,430 in 2011-12 to Rs 1,304 in 2017-18
- In 2013-2019, the average agricultural GDP growth rate (driven by livestock) was 3.1%, much lower than the average GDP growth rate — 6.7%
- The average growth of the crop sector, which accounts for two-thirds of the agricultural sector GDP, was 0.3 per cent.
- Declining Landholding Size
- Average landholding size of a household has shrunk to 1.1 ha in 2016 (Source: NABARD)
- A farm household needs to have at least 1 ha of land to make ends meet, whereas the proportion of those owning less than one ha is 82.8%
- 37% of farm households owned land parcels of smaller than 0.4 ha
- Another 30% of farm households holdings which between 0.41 and 1.0 ha.
- Only 13% agricultural households owned landholdings bigger than 2 ha.
- Irrigation has stagnated, with less than half of Indian farmland irrigated.
- Rural India suffers from “urban consumer bias”: Government has kept food prices very low to spare urban consumers of price rise
- Budget cuts have affected key agri-programmes such as the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, the Backward Regions Grant Fund as well as irrigation schemes (Integrated Watershed Management Programme)
- Degradation in agricultural quality
- Rise of monocultures based on the intensive use of chemical pesticides has reduced soil productivity
- The level of water tables fell by 65 per cent in 10 years.
- Nearly 30 per cent of India’s land has been degraded due to deforestation, intensive farming, soil erosion and groundwater depletion.
- Increasing indebtedness of farmers
- Over half of the farmers are indebted
- The average loan amount outstanding for a farm household in India in 2017 was Rs 47,000.
- More than 3,20,000 farmers committed suicide between 1995 and 2016 (NCRB data)
- Rural Poverty
- NSS data show that rural poverty rose about 4 percentage points between 2011-12 and 2017-18 to 30 per cent
- Whereas urban poverty fell 5 percentage points over the same period to 9 per cent.
- The issue of migrant workers during the crisis should open the eyes of policy makers about the need to make agriculture sector a priority
- Agricultural sector should witness more investment to reduce the rural-urban gap
- Need for agro-ecological transition as it is more bio-diverse in nature, makes the system more resilient, strengthen food security and provide a safety net for farmers
Connecting the dots:
- Ashok Dalwai Committee on doubling of farmers’ income
- Zero Budget Natural Farming
- Second Green Revolution