Tenant farmers being left high and dry -B Yerram Raju
-The Hindu Business Line
It is vital to cover the important and vulnerable section of tenant farmers with credit and insurance
Tenant farmers rarely get bank credit. They don’t get any subsidies. Money lenders thrive on them because their loans cannot be waived. They also account for 80 per cent of farmers’ suicides in the country.
With farmers taking to the streets to highlight their issues these problems should be addressed. State level panel data of Nabard indicate that a 10 per cent increase in agricultural growth leads to a 2.1 per cent rise in GDP. Uneconomic holdings, lack of adequate credit flow and poor insurance cover to the tenant farmers prevents such growth. An inclusive growth agenda requires that tenant farmers’ issues of both debt and insurance be tackled.
Tenant farming exists with wide variations across States. It was 20.6 per cent of the operating area according to 8th round of NSSO Report in 1953-54. In 2002-03, it fell sharply to just 6.6 per cent of the operating area. Policymakers focused on abolition of feudal/semi-feudal agrarian structure with tenancy reforms aimed at conferring ownership right to tenants.
But post liberalisation, during 2003-13, tenancy increased to 10.4 per cent according to 70th round of NSSO Report. Andhra Pradesh (35.7 per cent), Bihar (22.7 per cent), Haryana (14.8 per cent), Odisha (16.9 per cent), Tamil Nadu (13.5 per cent) and West Bengal (14.7 per cent) lead the tenancy league, far above the all-India average of 10.4 per cent.
As the Indian economy becomes mature and inclusive, tenancy is likely to further increase. Land being scarce, there is severe demand for it. Urbanisation has made inroads into the rural landscape. Tenancy and sharecropping have become livelihood options in agriculture, to supplement incomes arising out of lesser availability of land.
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