ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Ramesh ChandSubscribe to Ramesh Chand

Changes in Rural Economy of India, 1971 to 2012

The transition in the rural economy in the last four decades is examined based on the analysis of growth and composition of output and employment. A reduction in the share of agriculture, and a dominance of non-farm activities in the rural economy is noted from 2004–05 onwards. However, agriculture continues to be the predominant source of employment. Employment in the construction sector increased substantially, but was not large enough to absorb workers leaving agriculture, resulting in a decline in rural employment after 2004–05. A serious imbalance has emerged in output and employment in different sectors in rural areas requiring urgent attention to create jobs in manufacturing, services, and construction. Creation of jobs in rural areas requires a complete rethink of rural industrialisation.

e-Platform for National Agricultural Market

Agricultural markets are characterised by poor competitiveness, fragmentation, inefficiency, presence of excessive middlemen, and frequent price manipulations. The electronic trading portal for national agricultural market is an attempt to use modern technology for transforming the system of agricultural marketing.

Fertiliser Use and Imbalance in India

The common and strongly-held view in India is that balanced fertiliser use requires three major plant nutrients, namely, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, to be used in the ratio of 4:2:1, and any deviation in fertiliser use from this norm would constrain growth in crop productivity. This officially-accepted perception, a product of 1950s experiments, has led to wrong policies on fertilisers. Estimating actual and normative quantity of N, P and K for each state of India corresponding to the current cropping pattern, it is found that contrary to the notion that there is excess use of nitrogen in India, 12 major states were found using less than the required level. India, in fact, faces large deficits in use of P and K. It calls for curtailing the use of N in one-third of the states and raising it in the remaining two-thirds.

Estimates and Analysis of Farm Income in India, 1983-84 to 2011-12

This paper presents estimates of farmers' incomes from agriculture over the past three decades. The income earned by farmers from agricultural activities after paying for input costs and the wages for hired labour has seen low to high growth in different periods during the last three decades. In none of the periods do farmers' income or profitability of farming show any squeeze. The pace of growth in farmers' income that began around 2004-05, which reduced the disparity in growth in incomes of farmers and non-farmers, could not be sustained after 2011-12. It looks like the growth in farm income after 2011-12 has plummeted to around 1%, and this is an important reason for the sudden rise in agrarian distress in recent years.

Agriculture: Intentions and Actions

The agriculture sector has grown rapidly in the past decade but this has been on the back of rising real prices and not productivity growth. Budget 2014 made a large number of announcements on new schemes and new policies to address the immediate and longterm challenges. An assessment of the budget initiatives.

Changes in the Rural Labour Market and Their Implications for Agriculture

The rural labour market is undergoing significant changes mainly due to rising employment opportunities outside agriculture. The real wage rate for farm as well as non-farm rural labour is moving upwards. This has serious implications for the farm sector. This study examines the trend and pattern of rural labour diversification and identifies the underlying factors for this change. The movement of workers outside the agriculture sector was found to be influenced by a complex set of factors such as the pattern of economic growth, inter-sectoral differences in the wage rate and worker productivity, government programmes, education, and sociocultural factors prevailing in rural India.

Development Policies and Agricultural Markets

Agricultural marketing in India suffers from inefficiency, a disconnect between the prices received by producers and the prices paid by consumers, fragmented marketing channels, poor infrastructure and policy distortions. Urgent reforms are needed to address these inadequacies and check the excesses of middlemen. While encouraging new models that improve the bargaining power of producers and scaling up successful experiments, producers' companies and cooperative marketing societies could be promoted to provide alternative avenues for sale of produce. Meanwhile, price policy has to be reoriented to bring it in tune with the emerging demand and supply of various crops. Though the private sector is vital to improving efficiency, the public sector is equally essential to serve the larger social goal of maintaining price stability through market operations.

Temporal and Spatial Variations in Agricultural Growth and Its Determinants

The agriculture sector has gone through different phases of growth, embracing a wide variety of institutional interventions, and technology and policy regimes. From the late 1960s onwards, the green revolution helped the sector maintain steady growth for more than two decades. But the challenges that swept through the economy in the 1990s after the initiation of economic reforms arrested this growth. Conscious efforts have brought about a recovery of growth since the middle of the first decade of the 2000s. It is important to assess whether the recent turnaround is sustainable in the long run. This paper analyses the trends in agricultural productivity at the national and state levels and attempts to identify the major factors responsible for the varied performance of agriculture in different periods and in different states.

The Seeds Bill, 2011: Some Reflections

The main reason for the continued low use of quality seed has been inadequate access. Though the private sector has taken a lead in harnessing technological innovation in some segments, it has concentrated on particular types of seed. It has also occasionally supplied spurious and low quality seeds and charged exorbitant prices. There is, thus, a strong need to promote competition, strengthen the role of the public sector and encourage investment in seed production. The provisions of the new seeds bill and its early enactment are critical for moving agriculture to a new growth trajectory.

Manipulating Technology for Surplus Extraction: The Case of Bt Cotton in India

The spread of Bt cotton has resulted in hybrid varieties wiping out true varieties. An impression has been created as if the adoption of Bt cotton necessitates the use of hybrids. This is an illusion created by the private sector to extract surplus through the sale of seed. This is in sharp contrast to the spread of Bt cotton elsewhere in the world where no hybrids are used. The strategy adopted by the private sector is rendering farmers' rights in seed infructuous and it throws a serious challenge to the public sector to provide an alternative in terms of varieties.

Farm Size and Productivity: Understanding the Strengths of Smallholder and Improving Their Livelihoods

During the 1960s and 1970s there was an intense debate on the observed inverse relationship between farm size and per hectare agricultural productivity in India. It was subsequently argued that the higher productivity of smallholdings would disappear with the adoption of superior technology, modernisation and growth in general. However, close to half a century later, National Sample Survey data from the initial years of the 21st century show that smallholdings in Indian agriculture still exhibit a higher productivity than large holdings. These smallholdings however show lower per capita productivity and the incidence of poverty is widespread. Strategies for Indian agriculture and smallholding households should include reducing the inequality in land distribution and promoting off-farm work in the rural areas itself. The strategy of improving the crop land-man ratio by facilitating migration from rural India has not worked and will not work. The lives of smallholding families can be improved only by building on their higher per acre agricultural productivity and by promoting off-farm rural employment.

Price and Non-Price Factors in Agriculture Growth

Agricultural Growth in India: Role of Technology, Incentives and Institutions by A Vaidyanathan (New Delhi: Oxford University Press), 2010; pp xvi + 225, Rs 675.


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