Farm loan waiver: Majority and poorest farmers do not benefit-a status check -Prasanna Mohanty

-BusinessToday.in

There is, however, no silver bullet solution to agrarian distress. It needs long-term planning and multi-pronged strategy.

Agrarian distress has come to the centre stage of national discourse primarily because of last year's multiple farmers' marches and the electoral outcomes in the three Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. This augurs well for a sector which provides 49% of total employment and supports nearly 70% of population but has largely been relegated to the background.

However, much of the debate is centred around politically expedient and populist measures like farm loan waiver, higher minimum support price (MSP) and of late, investment support for farmers in line with Telangana's popular Rythu Bandhu (Agriculture Investment Support Scheme). What needs to be understood is that agrarian distress did not happen overnight. Niti Aayog's 2017 report, Doubling Farmers' Income,  and many such analyses, state clearly that the problems started after 1991-92 - until when both farm and non-farm sectors grew at the same level - and so requires a comprehensive approach to pull the sector out of the crisis.

Here we take a look at some of the solutions being bandied about these days.

Loan waiver helps a minority, excludes landless

Farm loan waiver is no panacea, but an emergency relief for some farmers, not all. That is because it benefits only those farmers who have taken loans from institutional sources. Last NSSO survey of 2013 showed 52% of agriculture households were indebted but only 60% of those had taken loans from institutional sources.  This means, only 31% agriculture households (60% of 52% indebted households) are likely to benefit from loan waiver.

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BusinessToday.in, 21 January, 2019, https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/farm-loan-waiver-majority-and-poorest-farmers-do-not-benefit-a-status-check/story/312277.html

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