High indebtedness, low agri household income, large number of small holdings are a feature of the agriculture sector in UP.
The proposed annual Rs 6,000 direct income support for marginal and small farmers may be more beneficial in Uttar Pradesh than in most other states because of low agricultural household income, high incidence of indebtedness, low wages of farm workers and large number of small holdings in the state, experts say.
Trying to resolve the agrarian crisis in the country, union finance minister Piyush Goyal on Friday announced in the interim budget a new ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi’ scheme, seeking the transfer of Rs 6,000 a year to farmers owning cultivatable land up to 2 hectares.
“The proposal no doubt is a desirable step towards minimum income guarantee move and will surely come as a bigger relief for UP’s farmers whose monthly incomes are one of the lowest in the country,” an economist Ajit Kumar Singh said.
The union ministry of agriculture and farmers welfares’ latest ‘Agriculture Statistics-2017 show that of the total 2.33 crore operational land holdings in UP, 1.85 crore are marginal that is less than 1 acre and 30.35 lakh small, that is 1 to 2 hectares.
As many 1.33 lakh holdings are semi medium (2-4 hectare), 3.98 lakh medium (4 to 10 hectares) and 25,300 are large holdings, that is, 10 hectares and above.
As per the Agriculture Census 2010-11 and Input Survey quoted in the report, the average size of land holding of marginal farmers, who account for more than 72% of the state’s total holdings, is merely 0.39 hectare.
It is revealed that average monthly income per agricultural household in UP is as low as Rs 4,701, which is far behind the national average of Rs 6,426. There are only two states where agricultural households’ monthly income is lower than in UP. They are Bihar and West Bengal, where the income is Rs 3,558 and Rs 3,980 respectively.
All other states are above UP. The monthly agricultural household income in Punjab is as high as Rs 18,059. It is Rs 14,434 in Haryana.
The report puts the incidence of indebtedness of UP’s agricultural households at 16.9%, which has been found to the highest among the major states.
Minimum wages for the agriculture workers are also one of the lowest in UP, where is it fixed at Rs 161 per day for unskilled workers (with effect from 1-1-2017).
On the other hand, unskilled workers in Bihar get Rs 234, in MP Rs 200, in West Bengal Rs 226, in Odisha Rs 200, in Rajasthan Rs 207 and in Punjab Rs 273.
“Considering their situation, Rs 6000 a year may not change the fate of poor farmers but it will certainly provide some relief to them and greater relief than in most other states,” Singh said.
He, however, said the success of the scheme would largely depend on its execution.
“I feel that should have confined the scheme to marginal farmers and increased the amount linking it to size of the land, which means a marginal farmer with more land should have been given more cash as is being done by Telangana,” he suggested.