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

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What Does the Rural Economy Need?

The agricultural sector has performed worse than the other sectors over the years. The shares of non-agricultural employment and output have increased, while70% of agricultural householdscannot meet their low consumptionneeds even after diversification of sources of income. An analysis of budgetary provisions for the rural economy suggests that the government has not done enough to address some of these well-documented problems, and does not have the required vision to substantially increase rural employment opportunities.

Well Worth the Effort

More than 1,00,000 wells were sanctioned for construction under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in Jharkhand during the last few years. This study evaluates the outcome of this well-construction drive through a survey of nearly 1,000 wells in 24 randomly selected gram panchayats. A majority of sanctioned wells (60% with parapet and 70% without) were completed at the time of the survey. Nearly 95% of completed wells are being utilised for irrigation, leading to a near tripling of agricultural income of those in the command area. The real rate of return from these wells in Jharkhand is estimated to be close to 6%, a respectable figure for any economic investment. However, well construction involves some out-of-pocket expenses and this investment is risky: nearly 12% of the wells were abandoned midway.

Agrarian Question in India

Using the latest National Sample Survey Office data on land distribution and use, questions of agrarian change in India are revisited. With reducing landholding size in general, the increasing unviability of such small plots, and increasing numbers of "effectively" landless households, the larger questions of employment and sectoral shifts are flagged. There is still no clear transition away from agriculture.

Farming Needs Young Blood

Indian agriculture has an image problem. There is decreasing interest among educated rural youth to enter agriculture-related professions due to the persistent perception of agriculture as an outdated occupation with minimal financial returns. Technology could make agriculture more attractive to...

Cotton : Monopoly Mess

The Monopoly Cotton Procurement Scheme looks increasingly like becoming a millstone around the Maharashtra government’s neck. The cash-strapped state has not been able to pay farmers yet, though procurement of cotton began on November 7. The Shetkari Sanghatana leader Sharad Joshi has launched an agitation that has spread rapidly through the cotton bowl of Vidarbha, where the government also apparently failed to open most of the proposed procurement centres. Hundreds of farmers have resorted to rail and road traffic blockades and stonepelting, catching the government off-guard. To tide over the immediate standoff and to mollify the agitating farmers, the state government has decided to release Rs 500 crore through the apex state cooperative bank. Joshi, on his part, has agreed to put off his threatened hunger strike till December 1 to allow for further talks.

Behind the Coffee Crisis

This paper analyses the complex web of factors that are behind the current crisis in the global coffee market. Although there has been wide coverage in the press of tumbling prices for 'green' coffee and their repercussions on rural livelihoods in producing countries, not much has been said on the long-term changes that have taken place in the global coffee marketing chain. This has resulted in the widespread belief that the coffee crisis is simply about oversupply. This paper shows that changes in the international coffee trade regime, in regulation at the domestic level in producing countries, and in corporate strategies have also been at the root of the crisis. Finally, it gives specific policy directions to constructively address the emerging imbalances.

Cotton : Genie Out of the Bottle?

A correspondent writes: Genetically modified cotton (Bt cotton) finds itself at the centre of a fresh controversy. An Ahmedabad-based company has allegedly been found to have sold Bt cotton seeds to farmers in at least seven districts in Gujarat who have planted it in over 10,000 acres and are all set to reap a bumper harvest. In fact, some of them have already harvested their crop. The government has so far not allowed the cultivation of any GM crops, hence the transgenic cotton crop is illegal. The union environment ministry has now stepped in and asked the Gujarat government to

Capitalist Farming in India

Ashok Rudra (Review of Agriculture, September 27, 1969) tells us that he is more interested in the 'Red Revolution' than in the 'Green Revolution', The colour of the revolution which I have seen in one area after another of India in the 1960s is steel-grey. I call it an industrial revolution.
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