Skip to main content

Neglect of small, marginal farmers: Why little space for livestock in India's agri-budgets

By Sanjib Pohit*

It seems that that there is a complete breakdown of trust between the Union government and farmers. The multiple rounds of negotiations, offer to negotiate clause by clause of the farms’ bills fail to convince the farmers. As a result, there is no sign that the sit-in by the farmers around Delhi’s border would go up in the near future. It appears to have tuned into a question of ego on both sides.
In this background, the Union budget is to be presented. Understandably, the government will make every effort to pacify the farmers in the upcoming budget, notwithstanding the fact that her fiscal space is limited due to Covid impact.
From the farmers’ perspective, the general view is that the farm bills will hurt all spectrum of farmers. However, a view often said is that this agitation is led by the medium and large farmers and small/marginal farmers are not active in this agitation and they look forward to the implementation for farm bills.
However, there is flaw in this argument. Is crop agriculture the sole source of livelihood of small/marginal farmers? The answer is negative. As Report of the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income Volume II indicates, at the lower end of the spectrum of land size, which constitute the small/marginal farmers, wages and salaries constitute the principal source of income. It may be noted that the shares of income from livestock decline as land sizes increase, and vice versa. 
In general, livestock is an important source of income for small/marginal farmers which contributes to about 15 percent income of small/marginal farmer at the all-India level, though it is as high as 30 percent in some states (eg. Jharkhand, Gujarat). On the other hand, the share of income from cultivation (crop agriculture) comes to about 36 percent at all-India level. Other components of farmers’ income are wages and salaries and non-farm income, which do not generally figures in the agri-budget.
Since livestock is an important source of income for small/marginal farmers -- about little less than 50 percent of income from crop agriculture -- agriculture in the budget needs to be more centric towards livestock. However, livestock rarely find mention in the budget. A glance at any past agriculture budget indicates that there are surfeit of schemes for crop agriculture. But one come across only a few scheme for livestock. Most of the fund is allocated for crop agriculture.
The Union government has introduced an ambitious scheme of crop insurance in case of crop failure due to drought or other factors. Why not introduce a similar scheme for livestock sectors when there is a muss culling of poultry stock due to a disease like bird flu? Surely this would compensate marginal/small farmers for loss due to this type of disease.
By and large, agricultural extension services are geared towards crop agriculture. There is need to have similar service for livestock sector.
The biggest challenge that the livestock sector is facing now is recent government's policies for the protection of cattle and restrictions on its trade combined with vigilantism by self-appointed cow protection groups. While the ban on cow slaughter was prevalent in many of the northern states, trade was allowed. As a result, an elaborate well-developed informal supply chain existed which facilitated movement of unproductive cows from the northern states to Bangladesh.
Biggest challenges livestock sector faces is recent government policy for protecting cattle, restrictions on its trade and vigilantism by self-appointed cow protection groups
However, this informal supply chain is now in tatters which has long-term ramifications. According to 2019 Livestock Census data, the cow population in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra declined six per cent between 2012 and 2019 with farmers preferring to keep buffaloes. The population of buffaloes rose over 10 per cent in these three states during this period, with Madhya Pradesh reporting as much as a 26 per cent increase.  
The cow owners have now little choice. Either they need to maintain such animals or find ways to surreptitiously get rid of them by abandoning them in forests or pushing them into city roads under the cover of darkness. Both of these options imply that the small and marginal farmers are worse off as they would not be able to earn from selling off their old cattle to invest in new, productive stock. This problem is also faced by the dairies who need to be provided a solution to dispose of cattle that have reached the end of their productive life.
While the state/Union government is keen to have this policy, why do not they have a policy to buy back unproductive stock from livestock owners? This is not really an absurd suggestion. In 2019, the government came out with a policy which offers tax incentives for discarding polluted vehicles. Though the policy is still not implemented, it is not yet completely ruled out. So, let there be a policy to buy back unproductive stocks from owners by state/union government.
There is a view in some circle that by-products (gobar, cow-urine) from unproductive stocks have economic value to take care of the wellbeing of same. However, this is possible only in an organised centre but not in isolation by farmers at their households. For this reason, it is more important to have a buyback policy to benefit the small/marginal farmers.
---
*Professor at National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), New Delhi. Views are personal

Comments

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

PLFS data: Is rising employment good news? Deeper analysis suggests contrary results

By Ishwar Chandra Awasthi, Puneet Kumar Shrivastav*  Results of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), 2020-21 , released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, Government of India (GoI) on June 14, 2022, show improvement in work force participation rate (WPR) and labour force participation rate (LFPR) and declining unemployment rate. Four rounds of data have been released from 2017-18 to 2020-21 based on PLFS. The general trend in the last four rounds clearly shows consistent increase in WPR and LFPR and falling unemployment rates by usual status (PS+SS). Though increase in WPR and LFPR is reported highest in 2019-20 over 2018-19, yet rising trend in these two key indicators continues throughout, and similarly fall in unemployment is registered highest in 2019-20 over 2018-19. Clearly, the recent results give some solace and relief after unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic that has entailed enormous loss of human lives and livelihoods and crippled economic activit

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

'Drop all falsed charges': 150 citizens demand early release of AltNews co-founder

Counterview Desk  About 150 concerned citizens have demanded the release of Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checkng newsportal AltNews, arrested over a 2018 tweet which allegedly hurt religious sentiments, even as booking for criminal conspiracy and having received foreign funds in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). Denied bail last weekend and sent to 14-day judicial custody, the concerned citizens, in a statement, regretted that while the Delhi High Court issued notice to the Delhi police on a petition filed on behalf of Zubair challenging the legality and propriety of his police remand and the seizure of his electronic devices, the “frivolous case” continues. Excerpts: The illegal arrest of Mr. Mohammed Zubair happened on June 27, 2022, by the Delhi Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity over a tweet from 2018. The IPC Sections included 153(a) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race,

Chennai residents 'suffering': Faulty design, implementation of storm water project

By NS Venkataraman*  The Greater Chennai Corporation is now implementing storm water drainage project in 559 roads, covering a distance of 1033 kilometres, which cost around Rs 4,070 crore. For this massive project, which is targeted to be completed between April and September this year, huge loan has been availed from World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others. Several technocrats have pointed out that the project has been designed with outdated technology and quality of the implementation is so poor that the residents have been put to great hardships. As part of the project, digging of the road has been done to around 5 to 6 feet deep and width of around 4 to 5 feet. The drains are being constructed using steel reinforced cement concrete with two walls on either side with provisions for manhole, chute etc. This has been done in front of several houses leaving little space between the gate of the house and that of the drainage structure. As the work has been going on for mor

Prime Minister's 'affordable' housing policy fails to help Gujarat slum dwellers: Study

By Rajiv Shah  A new study on the implementation of one of the major policy initiatives for the urban poor by the Narendra Modi government after it came to power, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), has said that in Gujarat, which happens to be the Prime Minister’s home state, has quoted state officials as “confirming” that no progress towards tenure regularization, a key requirement for providing housing to the state’s slum dwellers. Stating that this particularly true of smaller town, the study, carried out by the non-profit Homes in the City (HIC), which is based in Bhuj, district headquarter of Kutch that saw a devastating earthquake in 2001, says, the failure to provide affordable housing is there despite the fact that there has been “significant demand” in all the 83 out of 153 Gujarat municipalities studied by experts involved in the study. According to the study, out f a total of 1.41 lakh demands for housing under the Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) category, 94,232 (66.7%)

'Contractor-official nexus led to RTI activist's murder': Fact-finding team seeks probe

Courtyard inside of PWD office where Ranjeet Soni was killed Counterview Desk  A fact-finding team* visited Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh (MP) on June 19, 2022 to meet with the family of Ranjeet Soni, who was shot dead on June 2, 2022 inside the premises of the PWD office in Vidisha. The objective was to gather information about the circumstances surrounding the death of Ranjeet Soni and his work on exposing corruption through the use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A report prepared by the team members says that Ranjeet had been extensively using the RTI Act to access information from the government, and upon receiving documents showing misuse of public funds or corruption, he was filing complaints to various authorities including the Lokyukta, Publi Works Department (PWD) and the Chief Minister’s Office. It notes, Ranjeet used to work as a contractor and often undertook government works in collaboration with other contractors, including those being investigated for his murder. A f

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria