THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : The rural economy in the state is facing a crisis with the shrivelling of enterprises, according to provisional figures of the Economic Census 2014.
According to figures in the report released recently by the Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation the growth rate of rural establishments was -13.02 per cent during the 2005-14 period, the lowest since 1980. The employment opportunities in the rural businesses too dropped to an all-time low of -13.25 per cent during the period.
The periodical Economic Census, last conducted in 2005, enumerates entrepreneurial units, including agricultural-related, engaged in the production or distribution of goods and services.
According to the census data, the state had a total of 33,75,567 establishments employing 69,19,658 people. The percentage of establishments in the rural and urban sectors were 53.79 and 46.21 respectively; which together contributed 5.77 per cent of the national figure.
Kerala ranked 29th among the states and Union Territories with a combined growth rate of 21.33 per cent against the national rate of 41.73 per cent.
The urban enterprises in the state registered a growth of 124.58 per cent, an eight percent increase from the 2005 figure. However, the corresponding growth in employment was only 26.49 per cent, a huge dip from the 48.94 per cent recorded in 2005. Economics and Statistics Department director V Ramachandran said the fall in growth rate was not at an alarming rate.
“Several rural folk have abandoned cattle rearing, poultry and the like for different reasons. Wayside and grocery shops are dwindling in numbers, both in rural and urban areas, owing to the mushrooming of super markets,” he said.
He said a corresponding drop was not visible in employment as large establishments employed more personnel. The increase in number of IT and related industries are offering greater employment opportunities, he said. K N Harilal, faculty of the Centre for Development Studies, said the data called for an in-depth study. “The rural-urban divide is a serious issue, if true. A proper analysis of the data is essential for corrective measures,” he said.