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Home > Business > Special

Farm revival critical for poverty removal

Sunil Jain in New Delhi | June 08, 2007

For the country's poorest districts, the only hope of escaping grinding poverty is to increase farm productivity in a big way -- in most of these districts, around 85 per cent of those employed work in the agricultural sector.

In contrast, in the upper income districts, the share of those working in agriculture to the total work force is generally between a third and a fourth.

Jhabua, in Madhya Pradesh, for instance, had a per capita income of just Rs 12,158 in 2005-06, making it the 578th district in the country (of the total of 593).

According to Indicus Analytics' latest report on agricultural income in the country, 87 per cent of those working in this district (43 per cent of the total population) are employed in the farm sector. In terms of land productivity, Jhabua is ranked 523rd with each hectare of land producing Rs 10,141 of output (on the basis of gross cropped area).

In terms of labour productivity, Jhabua is ranked an equally poor 535th, with each labourer generating just Rs 6,013 per year.

To put this in perspective, the most-productive district in the country, Wayanad in Kerala, has a land productivity of around 15 times as high -- Rs 151,441 per hectare on a gross cropped area basis. Its labour productivity is nearly 37 times as high, at Rs 258,357 per employed person per annum.

Around 47 per cent of the total workforce in Wayanad is employed in the farm sector. For other prosperous districts, like the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, just 18 per cent of the workforce is employed in the farm sector.

In the case of Jashpur in Chhattisgarh whose per capita income (Rs 12,933) puts it at number 565 in the country, land productivity is a mere Rs 10,861 per hectare (it is ranked 516th here) and labour productivity Rs 8,441 per year (it is ranked 492nd here).

Other poor districts with a very high proportion of workers involved in agriculture include Mandla in Madhya Pradesh (85 per cent people are engaged in agriculture), Kullu in Himachal Pradesh (79 per cent), Kanker in Chhattisgarh (85 per cent), Mon in Nagaland (86 per cent) and Seoni in Madhya Pradesh (83 per cent) -- all these districts, chosen on the basis of proportion of the workforce engaged in agriculture, are ranked above 500 when it comes to per capita income levels.

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