NEW DELHI: If a government survey is to be believed, forget making money to sustain the family, an agricultural household is accumulating Rs 3,000 debt every month.
The Agricultural Household 70th Round Survey of National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), conducted during July 2012–June 2013, has found that the total income of an agricultural household per month was Rs 6,426.
However, the total expenditure, including household and expenses on crop production, was Rs 9,502. “This shows why farmers are committing suicide,” says Kishor Tiwari who has been championing farmers’ cause in Vidarbha.
“The situation is even worse in at least 18-19 districts and farm income is less than shown in the survey. Why do you think small and marginal farmers are migrating to cities? If I pick up the survey figure, a farmer is collecting Rs 36,000 in debt every year and cannot sustain the family. There is a need to increase farm income,” Tiwari told Express.
As per the government’s own figures, as many as 116 farmers had committed suicide due to agrarian reasons till April 2016. According to the survey, the average monthly consumption expenditure per agricultural household during July 2012-June 2013 was Rs 6,223 and average monthly expenditure on productive assets used for farm and non-farm business during the same period was was Rs 1,087.
The average monthly expenditure on crop production by a cultivating agricultural household during July 2012-June 2013 was estimated as Rs 2,192. The total expenditure by the household was Rs 9,502 per month.
The report says about 52% of the estimated 90.2 million agricultural households in rural India reported outstanding loans. About 60% of these loans were taken from institutional sources like banks and government and 26 per cent from agricultural or professional money lenders.
“Successive governments have kept farmers in this country impoverished,” observes Devinder Sharma, a well-known agricultural policy expert. The report further suggests farmers are earning the entire monthly income through agriculture.
It says nearly 60% of the average monthly income per agricultural household (Rs 6,426) was estimated to have been generated from farm business, including cultivation and farming of animals, and about 32 per cent from wages or salary and 8 per cent from other non-farm business.
“A farmer is making money through MNREGA. For small farmers, it could be labour work,” says Sharma.