In the year 2009, Joshi-Adhikari Institute undertook a primary survey to study the production and marketing trajectories of marginal farmers across the country. The purpose was to understand the breakdown of their fragile livelihood equilibrium under the neo-liberal policy frame. Marginal farm households constitute 70% of cultivator households in the country. The study was conceived and designed under the guidance of Shri S. P. Shukla and Dr. Jaya Mehta was the Project coordinator. Financial support was provided by PEACE, Action Aid and Focus.
113 villages of 30 districts in 8 states were covered in the survey. The states covered were Bengal and Bihar in East, Punjab in North, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra in Center and Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala in South. Over 15,000 rural households were listed. Rudimentary information like family size, occupation of the head, land holding and crops cultivated was collected for these households. A detailed survey of 1000 farm households was conducted. Here we collected detailed information on land holdings (leased land, mortgaged land, fallow land), water and other resource base (farm implements, livestock, assets etc), cropping pattern, farm operations, application of fertilizers and insecticides, production and marketing, farm income, supplementary income, indebtedness and other livelihood details.
Workshops, Seminars and Training
The survey was conducted with help of Kisan Sabha infrastructure and other activist groups. During the study, various workshops and seminars were organized in different states bringing focus of the people to the agrarian crisis in proper perspective and also building up the understanding of those who would be collecting data from the ground level. The meetings or workshops or seminars organized in Shantiniketan (West Bengal), Mumbai and Pune (Maharashtra), Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) deserve a special mention here.
Summary of findings
Summary of findings of the study is as follows:
- Small land size has a strong correlation with a poor resource base of water, farm implements and other assets
- Lack of irrigation facilities severely constrains the crop choices and production efficiency of marginal farmers
- If water is available then even with a poor resource base, marginal farmers ensure adequate application of seeds, fertilizers and insecticides. They manage to attain yield rates comparable with large farmers. However, the small land size puts the ultimate constraint on the viability of farm operations.
- Every marginal farm household has to supplement farm income with other incomes. In most cases, the other income is obtained by offering wage labour in exploitative labour markets, both in agriculture and outside.
The conclusion of the study is that an effective intervention in the primitive accumulation process ensued by neoliberal capital can only be made by farmers pooling together their primary resources, mainly land and labour.
Report Release Function and Seminar
The report of the study was released on 31st January 2011 by Comrade A. B. Bardhan and on this occasion Prof. Utsa Patnaik from JNU, Dr. Viju Krishnan from Kisan Sabha (CPM), Comrade Akhilendra Pratap Singh of Jan Sangharsh Morcha and Comrade Sudhakar Reddy gave their comments on the study. We also organized a seminar in which various facets of Agrarian Crisis were discussed. All the state level comrades and activists, who had participated in the study, attended the seminar and release function.
We have now formulated a new proposal to do a pilot study in Maharashtra to test the feasibility of marginal and small farmer’s co-operatives. We have associated TISS in this second phase of the study.