Small Holders and Livelihoods


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

About 98 million out of total 120 million farm holdings are small and marginal farmers. The sustainability of these farmers is crucial for livelihoods in rural areas and for the entire country. It is true that small holdings have higher productivity than medium and large farms. But, it is not enough to compensate for the disadvantage of the small area of holdings. The cost of cultivation per hectare is also high on small and marginal farmers than medium and large farms . At the all India level, net farm income per hectare for small holdings is higher than large holdings . The data at state level shows that in 9 out of 20 states, the reverse is true – net farm income per hectare is in large holdings higher than small holdings . However, the monthly income and consumption figures across different size class of land holdings show that marginal and small farmers have dis-savings compared to medium and large farmers. The average monthly income of farmer households is comprised of income from wages, net receipts from cultivation, net receipts from farming of animals and income from non-farm business. The average monthly consumption of farmer households is comprised of total food and non-food expenditure.
According to NSS 2003 data, the monthly consumption of marginal farmers was Rs.2482 and monthly income was Rs.1659 . It shows that they have dis-savings of Rs.823. The dis-savings for small farmers were Rs.655. On the other hand, for large farmers, monthly income and consumption respectively were Rs.9667 and Rs.6418 with savings of Rs.3249.  As NCEUS (2008) says “consumption expenditure of marginal and small farmers exceeds their estimated income by a substantial margin and presumably the deficits have to be plugged by borrowing or other means”. NCEUS (2008) also indicates that the poverty for small holding farmers is much higher than other farmers. The need for increase in productivity and incomes of small holdings and promotion of non-farm activities for these farmers are obvious.

Sunday, 03rd Jan 2016, 08:24:14 PM

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