Farmer incomes have increased by 37 percent over the four years from 2012 to 2016. This finding by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has quantified the performance of the government and given a stamp of approval to its agricultural policies. The findings are the result of the NABARD All India Financial Inclusion Survey (NAFIS).
According to the NABARD report, which was released recently at a function in New Delhi, farm income has risen from Rs 77,977 in 2012-13 as revealed by a previous NSSO survey to Rs 1,07,172 in 2015-16 as revealed by NAFIS. This makes the average monthly income of households in rural India Rs 8,059 in 2015-16. The average expenditure was Rs 6,646. The top three states as far as monthly income goes are Punjab (Rs 23,133), Haryana (Rs 18,496) and Kerala (Rs 16,927).
But a major reason for concern is that Uttar Pradesh, with the average monthly income at Rs 6,668, is the lowest in the country.
Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog released the NAFIS report. He said that this report would be of great help for all policy formulations in the country.
Another interesting finding of the survey is that farm households earned more than families solely dependent on non-farm livelihood activities in rural areas. They found that only 48 percent of villagers are dependent solely on agriculture. Households that had different sources of income - livestock, cultivation and labour - earned more.
The survey was conducted among 1,87,518 people making up nearly 40,000 households from 2016 villages in 245 districts and 29 states during 2015-16.
With the aim of assessing the penetration of banking in rural areas, the survey also asked the respondents about issues like debt, savings, investment, insurance, pension and financial aptitude and behaviour of individuals.
The survey gathered data on the asset base of farmers; household expenditure on production and consumption; and financial inclusion aspects including credit, savings, insurance, remittances, payments and pensions.
In the backdrop of rising farmer debt and suicides, the finding that the average debt (Rs 1,04,602) of farmer households was higher than that of non-farm households ( Rs 76,731) even though farmer incomes were marginally higher in comparison to non-farm counterparts, is interesting.
Dr Rajiv Kumar further said that the report's finding about rising income was in sync with falling absolute poverty in the country. The data collected through this survey will be crucial for doubling farmers income by 2022.
Dr H K Bhanwala, Chairman NABARD, in his introductory remark, stated that the survey is a pioneering attempt to bring together aspects of financial inclusion and rural livelihoods. He also informed that NABARD proposes to carry out the survey every three years.