According to National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector--NCEUS (2007), Report on Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganised Sector, http://nceus.gov.in/Condition_of_workers_sep_2007.pdf
• The National Agricultural Policy of 2000 observed "Agriculture has become a relatively unrewarding profession due to generally unfavourable price regime and low value addition, causing abandoning of farming and increasing migration from rural areas….". Several factors contribute to this situation. These include shift in cropping pattern towards cash crops, lack of level playing field for farmers in the global market, increased dependence on high-cost inputs which increases the cost of cultivation and indebtedness, enhanced risks, falling profitability and declining public support.
• When 92 per cent of the country's workforce is employed in the informal or unorganised economy (i.e. those who work in the unorganised sector plus the informal workers in the organised sector), it is but natural that there is a high congruence between the poor and the vulnerable segments of the society (who may be called the common people).
• Poor asset base and landlessness are the prime reasons why workers in rural areas work as agricultural labourers. The share of landlessness among the agricultural labourers was 19.7 per cent in 2004-05.
• About 86 per cent of the marginal and small farmers operate around 43 per cent of the agricultural land while 14 per cent of medium and large farmers operate around 37 percent of the land.
• Nearly 40 per cent of the Hindu STs engaged as agricultural labourers are below the poverty line, followed by Muslim agricultural labourers at 31.5 per cent, and SC Hindus at 31 per cent.
• Landlessness is the highest among Hindu SCs and Muslim OBCs and Others and the least among Hindu upper castes.
• 79 per cent of the informal or unorganised workers, 88 per cent of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, 80 per cent of the OBC population and 84 per cent of the Muslims belong to the poor and vulnerable group. They have remained poor at a bare subsistence level without any job or social security, working in the most miserable, unhygienic and unliveable conditions, throughout this period of high economic growth since the early nineties.
• The Situation Assessment Survey of Farmers of the National Sample Survey reported that as many as 40 percent of the farmers did not like farming and ‘were of the opinion that, given a choice, they would take up some other career’ (National Sample Survey, 2005; p11); 27 percent found it ‘not profitable’, another 8 percent reported that it is ‘risky’ and another 5 percent did not like it for ‘other reasons’
• Farmers' suicides happened in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh including Chattisgarh
• In the ten-year period between 1997 and 2006 as many as 166,304 farmers committed suicide in India. If we consider the 12 year period from 1995 to 2006 the figure is close to 2,00,000: the exact figure (190,753) would be an underestimation since a couple of major states like Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan and a number of smaller states like Pondicherry did not report any farmers’ suicides for one or the other – or both - of these two years.
• Going by the official data, on average nearly 16,000 farmers committed suicide every year over the last decade or so. It is also clear from the table that every seventh suicide in the country was a farm suicide.
• The year 1998 in fact show a sharp increase in the number of farm suicides – an 18 percent jump from the previous year; and the number remained more or less steady at around 16,000 suicides per year over the next three years upto 2001.
• The average number of farm suicides per year in the five year period 2002-2006, at 17,513 is substantially higher than the average (of 15,747 per year) for the previous five year period. Farm suicides have increased at annual compound growth rate of around 2.5 per cent per annum over the period 1997-2006
• Suicides in general, among the population as a whole, are also largely concentrated among males, but the degree of concentration here is significantly lower than in the case of farm suicides: male suicides in the general population account for nearly 62 percent of all suicides in the country.
• The farm suicide rate (suicide rate in the country is defined as number of suicides per 100,000 population) in the country in 2001 was 12.9, which was about one fifth higher than the general suicide, which was 10.6 in that year. As one would expect, the suicide rate among male farmers was much higher at 16.2, which was nearly two and a half times the rate for the female farmers (which was 6.2).
• The overall farm suicide rate in 2001 at 15.8 is around 50 percent higher than the general suicide rate in the country in that year. And for the male farmers this rate, at 17.7, is significantly higher, by about 75 per cent, compared to the females.
According to Some Aspects of Farming, 2003, Situation Assessment Survey of Farmers, National Sample Survey (NSS) 59th Round, (January–December 2003):
• An estimated 27% of farmers did not like farming because it was not profitable. In all, 40% felt that, given a choice, they would take up some other career. The break-up of members of farmer households by educational level was very similar to that of the entire rural population.
• Nearly 5% of farmer households had a member who belonged to a self-help group. Only 2% had a member who belonged to a registered farmers’ organisation.
• About 18% of farmer households knew what bio-fertilisers were and 29% understood what minimum support price meant. Only 8% had heard of the World Trade Organisation. Only 4% of farmer households had ever insured their crops and 57% did not know that crops could be insured. About 29% of farmer households included a member of a cooperative society.
• Only 19% had availed themselves of services from a cooperative. Most of these households availed themselves of either credit facilities, or services related to seeds or fertilisers.
• Almost 48% of farmer households purchased their seeds and 47% used farm-saved seeds. Whereas 30% farmers replaced seed varieties every year, another 32% replaced them every alternate year. Fertilisers were used by 76% farmer households during the kharif and 54% during the rabi season.
• For 27% households, fertilisers were available within the village. Organic manure was used by 56% farmer households during the kharif and 38% during the rabi season. It was available within the village for 68% households during the kharif and 75% households during the rabi season.
• Improved seeds were used by 46% farmer households during the kharif and 34% during the rabi season. They were available within the village for 18% farmer households.
• Pesticides were used by 46% farmer households during kharif and 31% during rabi. Veterinary services were used by 30% during kharif and 22% during rabi. Only 1.5-2% of farmer households said facilities for testing of fertilisers or pesticides were available to them.
• Among the various agricultural activities covered in the survey, 96.2% of all land used for farming during the kharif and 95.1% during the rabi season was devoted to cultivation, including horticulture, sericulture and vermiculture. In case of leased-in land, 98.2% during the kharif and 97% during the rabi season was cultivated.
• The share of orchards and plantations in total farmed land was 3% during the kharif and 4% during the rabi season. In land farmed by Scheduled Caste households, the share of orchards and plantations was 1-2%.
• Farmer households possessing less than 0.01 hectares of land - who devoted only 14% of farmed land to cultivation - reported 69% of farmed land as used for dairying, compared to 0.35% for all farmer households taken together.
• Almost 50% of all land irrigated during the kharif season and 60% during the rabi season was irrigated by tube-wells. Wells were used to irrigate 19% of 1and during kharif and 16% during rabi. Canals accounted for irrigation of 18% land during kharif and 14% during rabi.
• An estimated 62% of net irrigated area during kharif and 69% during rabi was devoted to cultivation of cereal crops. Gross irrigated area accounted for 42% of cropped area during the kharif and 56%during the rabi season. About 79% of gross irrigated area during the kharif and 83% during the rabi season was irrigated without the use of any device. Around 5% was irrigated with the help of diesel pumps and 4% with electric pumps.
• Of the farmer households using non-human energy for ploughing, about 47% used diesel tractors while 52% relied on animal power. Among those using non-human energy for harvesting, 59% used diesel-powered machines. Of those reporting non-human energy use for irrigation, 66% used diesel pumps and 33% used electric pumps.
The Mid-Term Appraisal (MTA) for the Tenth Five Year Plan had drawn attention to the loss of dynamism in agriculture and allied sectors after the mid-1990s. In fact, during the last decade or so Indian agriculture has faced a number of severe challenges, superimposed on the long-term demographics. According to the 11th Five year Plan, http://planningcommission.nic.in/plans/planrel/fiveyr/11th