Sunday, May 26, 2019


Small farmers can’t maintain minimum std of living, need policy support
Saturday, 14 October, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, New Delhi
Small farmers in India are struggling to maintain even a minimum standard of living and urgently need policy support. This was the crux of the evidence collected from 17 villages in nine states of India, published as a book, which was titled How do Small Farmers Fare? Evidence from Village Studies, edited by Madhura Swaminathan and Sandipan Baksi.

It was released at the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics (ISAE) conference at Umiam by Yoginder Alagh, conference president, in the presence of Abhijit Sen, president, ISAE, and other conference participants.

Terming the book a timely one in the context of the agrarian distress that has dominated public and political discourse, Alagh said, “The work of the Foundation was in line with the tradition of village studies pioneered by the Indian Statistical Institute.”

Introducing the ongoing Project on Agrarian Relations in India (PARI) undertaken by the Foundation for Agrarian Studies (FAS), Sen commended the comprehensive questionnaire for the village surveys and invited members of ISAE to read and engage with the debates in the book. He suggested they look at available data under PARI, for further research and analysis.

Giving an overview of the book, Swaminathan said, “The essays in the book examine the socio-economic characteristics of small farmers in relation to other strata of the rural population.”

“There is evidence of low and inadequate incomes among small farmers, and also of inequalities within villages and across agro-ecological regions. It points to a crisis of small farming, as small farmer households are unable to generate incomes to maintain a minimum standard of living,” she added.

In India, small farmers make up nearly half the total area under cultivation. While they account for a substantial rural population, they operate in a capitalist market economy where a small section of the population controls the bulk of the means of production.

Published by Tulika Books in association with FAS, the book is the fifth in the Agrarian Studies Series edited by V K Ramachandran. It makes a case for urgent public policy support to bring economies of scale to small farmers so as to ensure them a minimum standard of living.

The 12 chapters in this book cover a range of livelihood issues, including household incomes, labour use, crop productivity, costs and prices, fertiliser use, access to credit, education and amenities.

While the introductory chapter deals with the classical literature on small farmers, there is also a chapter on the impact of climate change on small farmers.
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