There is so much confusion about the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana
Against the backdrop of the Finance Minister Shri Piyush Goyal announcing the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKSN) programme during his budget speech on 1st February, 2019, it becomes essential to differentiate between 12.56 crore operational holding households (enumerated, as per the Agriculture Census) and 13.33 crore ownership holding households (estimated, as per the 70th round National Sample Survey report no. 571) pertaining to size upto 2 hectares.
In his budget speech, the finance minister said that under the new programme landholding farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000/- per year, which will be transferred directly into the bank accounts of beneficiary farmers, in three equal instalments of Rs. 2,000/- each. He added that nearly 12 crore small and marginal farmer families are expected to benefit under the PMKSN programme.
Most commentators and journalists based on the latest available Agriculture Census said that the total number of small and marginal operational holdings (of size upto 2 hectares) was 12,56,35,000 (viz. 12.56 crore) during the crop year July, 2015-June, 2016 (reference year). As per the Agriculture Census, all land, which is used wholly or partly for agricultural production and is operated as one technical unit by one person alone or with others without regard to the title, legal form, size or location, can be termed as operational holding. Thus, apart from owned land (provided it is cultivated by its owner), other types of land (based on various types of contracts) may be included under operational holdings. The term operational holding in the Agriculture Census corresponds to the person who actually cultivates the land rather than its ownership.
Many experts and economists, however, doubt whether the government's new Income Support Scheme covers landless and tenant farmers (comprising mainly Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribe farmers and women farmers) as well as sharecroppers. From table-1, one could check that in 2015-16 there were 9,98,58,000 (viz. almost 9.99 crore) marginal and 2,57,77,000 (viz. nearly 2.58 crore) small operational holdings.
Table 1: Number of operational holdings, in '000 (from 1970-71 to 2015-16) – All social groups
Note: * excluding Jharkhand
Source: Agriculture Census 2015-16 (Phase-I): All India Report on Number and Area of Operational Holdings, Provisional Results, Agriculture Census Division, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare, please click here to access
According to a recent article by Prof Prabhat Patnaik, since the finance minister did not define whether "landholding" refers to "land-owning" or "land-operating", and whether "land" includes "homestead land", so it is better to consider "non-homestead" "land-owning" households. If we consider that, then there were 13,32,83,300 (viz. roughly 13.33 crore) estimated number of ownership holding households pertaining to the size 0.002-2.000 hectare during July, 2012-June, 2013, as per the 70th round NSS report number 571. Ownership holdings below 0.002 hectares would be meant for homestead, according to Prof. Patnaik. The NSS report, however, says that 'less than or equal to 0.002 hectares' which is classified under 'landless' category, also includes plots where area is not reported.
Please consult table-2, which shows that during the agricultural year July, 2012-June, 2013 the total estimated number of “non-homestead” “land-owning” households of size 0.002-0.005 hectare was 1,44,55,700 (viz. 1.45 crore), size 0.005-0.040 hectare was 3,57,92,300 (viz. 3.58 crore), size 0.040-0.500 hectare was 4,61,89,900 (viz. 4.62 crore), size 0.500-1.000 hectare was 2,12,42,500 (viz. 2.12 crore) and size 1.000-2.000 hectare was 1,56,02,900 (viz. 1.56 crore).
Table 2: Per 1000 distribution of households by size class of household ownership holding, average area of homestead land per household, average area of land owned (excluding homestead land) per household, average area owned per household, estimated number of holding, sample number of holding, estimated number of plots, sample number of plots and estimated area of household holding for each size class of household ownership holding
Source: Report no. 571: Household Ownership and Operational Holdings in India NSS 70th Round, January-December, 2013, please click here to access
The NSS Report No. 571 entitled Household Ownership and Operational Holdings in India says that a plot of land was considered owned by the household if permanent heritable possession, with or without the right to transfer the title, was vested in a member or members of the household. Land held in owner-like possession under long term lease or assignment was also considered as land owned.
According to the same NSS report, sometimes a plot might be possessed by a tribal in accordance with traditional tribal rights from local chieftains or village/ district council. Again, a plot might be occupied by a tenant for which the right of ownership vests in the community. In both the cases, the tribal or other individual (tenant) was taken as owner, for in all such cases, the holder had the owner like possession of land in question.
Budgetary allocation for PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana is too less
There are various problems with the way a landholding farmer would be identified by the government. It has been found in various studies that mostly women farmers, Scheduled Caste (SC) farmers and Scheduled Tribe (ST) farmers lack formal land titles. So, they do not have proper documents to prove that they are 'formally' farmers so as to apply for government schemes. In case of various land-based contracts (such as in case of tenancy and sharecropping), there is no formal document signed between the parties. In many cases, land titles are not transferred from one generation to the next one thanks to the corrupt patwaris who keep land records in the villages. Thus, experts doubt whether it would be possible to implement the Income Support Scheme for small and marginal farmers within a span of 2 months viz. during February-March in the current financial year for which Rs. 20,000 crore has already been allocated.
Even if we assume that the PMKSN programme would be implemented within a span of 2 months, the money which has been allocated in the interim budget is quite less. If Rs. 2,000/- is allocated to each 12.56 crore small and marginal operational holding household (assuming that one farm household operates 1 holding) as part of 1st instalment, then the total spending (viz. cost) under the PMKSN programme would be Rs. 25127,00,00,000 (viz. around Rs. 25,000 crore) in the financial year 2018-19. But the interim budget has allocated only Rs. 20,000 crore for 2018-19 (R.E.).
If Rs. 2,000/- is allocated to each 13.33 crore small and marginal ownership holding household as part of 1st instalment, then the total spending (viz. cost) under PMKSN Yojana would be much more viz. roughly Rs. 26,657 crore.
In a press release by Swaraj Abhiyan and various farmers' organisations dated 1st February, 2019, social activist Kiran Kumar Vissa from Rythu Swarajya Vedika (Telangana), while commenting on the PMKSN scheme, said, "In comparison, the Rythu Bandhu scheme of Telangana government provides Rs. 10,000/- per acre of support, which means that a 5-acre farmer would get Rs. 50,000/- per year, giving at least partial support towards cultivation cost. It is a joke to declare that the meagre Rs. 6,000/- per year will save farmers from the moneylenders, when a typical small farmer requires an investment of at least Rs. 1 lakh in cost of cultivation."
Is it meant for all farmers or farmers having upto 2 hectares land only?
Although the budget speech by the finance minister mentions that landholding farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares, would be covered under the PMKSN programme, the Notes on Demands for Grants 2019-20 for the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers' Welfare indicates that the Income Support Scheme is 100 percent funded by Government of India for augmenting income of farmers by providing income support to all landholder farmer families owning cultivable land, across the country. No limit of 2 hectare is mentioned in the above definition, as opposed to what is mentioned in the budget speech.
NSS Report No. 571: Household Ownership and Operational Holdings in India, NSS 70th Round, January-December, 2013, please click here to access
Agriculture Census 2015-16 (Phase-I): All India Report on Number and Area of Operational Holdings, Provisional Results, Agriculture Census Division, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare, please click here to access
Notes on Demands for Grants 2019-20 for the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers' Welfare, please click here to access
Union Interim Budget Speech 2019-20 that was delivered by Shri Piyush Goyal on 1st February, 2019, please click here to access
Outlay on Major Schemes, Union Interim Budget 2019-20, please click here to access
Manual of Schedules and Instructions for Data Collection, Agriculture Census 2015-16, please click here to access
Marginal & small holdings saw increased fragmentation & contracted size between 2010-11 and 2015-16, indicates latest Agriculture Census, News alert by Inclusive Media for Change dated 13th December, 2018, please click here to access
The boundaries of welfare -Prabhat Patnaik, The Indian Express, 4 February, 2019, please click here to access
Prof. Abhijit Sen, a former member of the erstwhile Planning Commission, interviewed by Asit Ranjan Mishra (Livemint.com), Livemint.com, 4 February, 2019, please click here to access
Budget 2019: Farmer payout Rs 6,000 won’t cost much but won’t mean much either -Harish Damodaran, The Indian Express, 2 February, 2019, please click here to access
Will the budget actually benefit farmers? -Jayati Ghosh, The Telegraph, 2 February, 2019, please click here to access
Budget 2019: Behind Chest Thumping, Cuts in Welfare and Silence on Jobs -Subodh Varma, Newsclick.in, 1 February, 2019, please click here to access
Modi Launches a Startling Pre-Election Budget, Massaged by Creative Accounting -Jayati Ghosh, TheWire.in, 1 February, 2019, please click here to access
Will farm loan waiver go the way of the property tax repeal? -Indira Rajaraman, Livemint.com, 4 January, 2019, please click here to access
Press release by Swaraj Abhiyan and others on Interim Budget 2019, dated 1st February, 2019, please click here to access
Image Courtesy: Himanshu Joshi
Tagged with: Income Support Scheme Interim Budget National Sample Survey Office Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Union Budget Agriculture Census National Sample Survey Operational Holdings Ownership Holdings Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana