(Courtesy: Nation For Farmers)
INDIA'S production of food grains has been increasing every year and though the yield is lower as compared to other top producing countries such as China, Brazil and the United States, India is among the top producers of several crops such as wheat, rice, pulses, sugarcane and cotton . It is the highest producer of milk and second highest producer of fruits and vegetables .
In 2013, India contributed 25% to the world’s pulses production, the highest for any one country, 22% to the rice production and 13% to the wheat production. It accounted for 25% of the total cotton produced, besides being second highest exporter of cotton for the past several years.
Who Is Toiling To Grow This Record Production And At What Price?
- Of the total 481.7 million workers in India (2011), 263 million i.e., 54.6% is agricultural workforce which includes 119 million cultivators and 144 million agricultural labour. The average size of the holding is 1.15 hectare. As much as 67% of India's farmland is held by the marginal farmers with holdings below one hectare against less than 1% in large holdings of 10 hectares and above .
- Farming is fast becoming an unsustainable occupation. According to NSSO Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households (Jan-Dec 2013), the average monthly income per agricultural household is barely Rs 6,426. Another study by Chand et al in 2015 reveals that income earned from agriculture is not adequate to keep as many as 53% farm households out of poverty , who operated on less than 0.63 hectares of land holding.
- In 2011-12 according to official data, more than a fifth of rural households with agriculture as their main occupation earned below poverty line incomes . The proportion of farm households suffering from acute poverty is as high as 22% in Gujarat to 45% in Jharkhand.
- Data from the village surveys conducted by the Foundation for Agrarian Studies (data from villages in six states – Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra) indicate that the average annual number of days of agricultural employment for rural workers does not exceed three months.
- An analysis for 17 villages showed that in the majority of villages, a family of five (a male worker, a female worker and three dependents) would require more than 600 days of employment at currently prevailing wages in order to obtain earnings equivalent of the dollar-a-day poverty line .
The calculation also shows that 100 days of employment, even if provided by MGNREGA, would not nearly suffice to ensure a poverty line level of earnings for a large majority of rural labour households.