Poverty and Agriculture

Poverty has been a thorn in India’s development for decades now. Every strategy and plan that has been derived and implemented by the government has failed or hasn’t performed as par with its expectations. Agriculture, on the other hand, has been a lifeline for the people who have been in this poor situation of poverty for years. It is the means through which they earn their bread and butter. It is a well-known fact that Agriculture Industry is the most professionally populated industry in our country. It provides a job for more than most of the people in our country.

The government of India has been deeply concerned with this problem of widespread poverty and has implemented several anti-poverty schemes. These schemes have given thrust on creating adequate livelihood opportunities for the marginalized segments of the population, provisioning public services and goods for improving standard and quality of life, strengthening institutions and delivery mechanisms to empower the poor, and targeted development of backward regions through resource transfers and supportive policy measures. To ensure inclusive growth, the emphasis on having a more desirable composition of gross domestic product (GDP) growth by targeting an average 4 percent per annum growth in AgGDP has found favor with the policymakers in the country’s Eleventh Five Year Plan.

Though there has been a significant decline in the incidence of poverty at the national level in India, there are several concerns that take away the shine from this accomplishment. In spite of the significant reduction in poverty, India is home to about 315 million poor people, 74 percent of them residing in rural areas. Further, the concentration of poverty is more rampant in landless agricultural labor households and marginal farm households which account for more than 50 percent of the total poor in India. Therefore, the needs and aspirations of these vulnerable groups must be taken care of to ensure inclusive growth in agriculture. Most of the studies conducted so far are focused on the aggregate rural and urban poverty and the dynamics of poverty among farming households and agricultural labor households have not been studied much. In this backdrop, this paper examines the trends in poverty rates among farming and agricultural labor households; their linkages with agricultural growth, and the possibilities of achieving targeted growth in agriculture.

Poverty is a state of total despair that consumes the best of the best men. There is a popular saying that Money doesn’t buy you happiness but who in this world wants to be sad without money than to be sad with money. Money is a state of power and not just a symbol of wealth these days, that’s why people fall in love with it, its not the amount of money that is satisfactory to people, it is the recognition, the power that comes with it that makes people obsessed with it. The latest estimates on poverty based on NSS data show that poverty was around 28 percent in India in 2004-05. In other words, more than 300 million people were below the poverty line in India in 2004-05. However, the percentage of the population below the poverty line declined consistently over time. The annual decline in percentage RURAL POVERTY AND AGRICULTURAL GROWTH IN INDIA 271 points was higher for rural areas than urban areas. A similar declining trend of poverty rates was observed among both farming and agricultural labor households. In the two decades between 1983 and 2004-05, the poverty rate for farming as well as agricultural labor households has come down. In 2004-05, 19 percent of the farming households and 42 percent of the agricultural laborers are reported living below the poverty line, down from 39 percent and 60 percent in 1983, respectively (Table 2). Thus, reduction in the poverty rate is amply visible, but still, the absolute numbers of poor have not reduced correspondingly. A wide disparity in poverty is a key feature across the states in India. In the rural areas of seven economically poorer states – Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh – the poverty rates among farming households varied from 28 percent to 41 percent from 2004-to 05.

The linkage between agricultural growth and rural poverty can be gauged from the fact that 74 percent of the households and 76 percent of the population live in the rural areas in India. Among rural households, 34 percent are self-employed in agriculture and 25 percent are agricultural labor households. In India, rural employment has undergone significant changes during this two-decade period. The total rural employment grew at the rate of 1.23 percent per annum from 1983 to 1993-94. However, non-agricultural employment grew faster than agricultural employment during this period. The growth in the non-agricultural sector has accelerated more in recent years. Between 1993 and 2004, non-agricultural employment grew at the rate of 3.33 percent per year compared with 1.7 percent per year during the pre-reform period. As a percentage of total rural employment, nonagricultural employment increased from 22 percent in 1993 to 28 percent in 2004-05.

Agriculture has been the main source of income in India in the regions where most of the people living in regions where education is not that valued or is missing. Agriculture is considered a poor man’s occupation in our country. Here, the industry is still in a stage where it is developing and where there are no real practices to teach people the new and easy ways of using technology. Everything big starts with one small step and here in our country that small step is for people to gain awareness about the importance of education. From there, maybe we can create a world of equal opportunities for everyone regardless of anything.