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Small farmers need second source of income

  • IASbaba
  • January 9, 2021
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation. 
  • Inclusive growth and issues arising from it. 

Small farmers need second source of income

Issues

  • Majority of Farmers are marginal: 70% of India’s farmers have small and marginal land holdings, operating below one hectare. 
  • Unrewarding livelihood: On an average, smaller holdings lose money as their household costs are higher than their earnings. According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), the average income of farmers owning up to two hectares is Rs 5,240 a month
  • Subsistence Farming: The smallest farms are afloat since they don’t pay for labour, relying entirely on the family, and they consume much of what is produced.
  • Irregular Income: Farming is a seasonal affair, not a full-time job

Farm to factory is the need of the hour

  • Encouraging Industrial Investment: Industrial investment should be encouraged in rural and backward areas by offering special incentives. This can ensure an additional income to minimise the dependency on the sole agriculture-based income.
  • Untapped Potential: Apart from part-time seasonal farming, a small farmer and a farm labourer have sufficient time to work and can earn Rs 12,000-Rs 15,000 a month easily after eight hours of labour in a nearby factory. 

Case Study

  • Of the 8,000 workers at the Sonalika plant in Hoshiarpur, 90% are marginal farmers and farm labourers of nearby villages. 
  • This model of linking industry with employment for marginal farmers and farm labourers can be amplified pan-India, particularly in the backward areas.

Way Ahead

  • Promoting Exports: To increase export from these areas, 50% relaxation in railway freight as freight subsidy can be provided from dry ports.
  • Cluster Approach: Special incentives are being offered to develop industrial corridors and clusters but this model should be replicated in the rural and backward areas to provide job opportunities to nearby small and marginal farmers and farm labourers.
  • Decentralised Microenterprise Ecosystem: A distributed, micro-level factory that can produce solopreneurs and micro-enterprises has to be created and supported in the rural areas. For instance, processing and packaging of vegetables for sale in urban malls can be one such micro-enterprise that is labour intensive.
  • Investment in Rural areas: Promotion of new industrial investment with a special incentive in backward areas to provide new jobs to rural India. Providing jobs to small, marginal farmers and farm labourers in nearby areas will minimise the rural-to-urban migration

Conclusion

  • On ground reforms in the agriculture sector through central amended laws will take more time but it is time for a policy and framework to promote industrial investment in rural and backward areas as a job engine for small, marginal farmers and farm labourers.
  • It would be the real execution of sab ka saath, sab ka vikas (progress for all), covering more than 60% of the population of the country residing in rural and backward areas.

Connecting the dots:

  • New Farms Laws and Opposition to it: Click Here

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