GaonConnection – India's biggest rural insights platform

IMPACT ON THE AGRICULTURE FARMERS

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  • 55%

    Farmers could not sell their crop produce in time due to the lockdown.

    • Three in five farmers are small farmers tilling less than 5 acres of land
    • While more than half the farmers were able to harvest their crops on time, only a little over one fourth were able to sell their harvest on time
    • Nearly two-fifths farmers who sold their crop sold it to a private trader during lockdown
    • Nearly half the farmers who sold their crop to a private trader were paid less than the government rate

    There are more than 146 million farmers in the country, as recorded in the latest Agriculture Census 2015-16 of the Union Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare published in 2019. This number has increased from 138.35 million in 2010-11.

The highest number of farmers (operational holders) are in Uttar Pradesh (23.82 million) followed by Bihar (16.41 million), Maharashtra (15.29 million), Madhya Pradesh (10.00 million), Karnataka (8.68 million), Andhra Pradesh (8.52 million), Tamil Nadu (7.94 million), Rajasthan (7.66 million), Kerala (7.58 million), etc.

In a first-of-its-kind national survey, Gaon Connection interviewed rural residents, including agricultural farmers and agricultural labourers, to understand the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on their lives and livelihoods in rural India. This survey, conducted across 179 districts in 23 states of the country, has thrown up some important findings.

Of the total 25,371 respondents in our national survey, 26.7 percent were farmers and another 19.9 percent agricultural labourers. Thus, almost 47 per cent of the total respondents were directly dependent on farming for their livelihood.

Our survey found that 62 per cent farmers – or three in five – are small farmers tilling less than 5 acres land. Another 25 per cent own between 5-9 acres land.
Whereas more than half (52 per cent) the farmers were able to harvest their crops on time during the lockdown, only a little over one fourth (28 per cent) were able to sell their harvest on time.

To manage COVID-19, the Indian government has demarcated the country into various zones depending on the extent of spread of the coronavirus – red, orange and green. Only one third of the farmers in red zone districts were able to harvest their crop on time compared to half in orange and green zone districts. Similarly, crop selling and sowing activity in red districts was the worst affected.

Nearly two-fifths farmers who sold their crop during the lockdown sold it to a private trader. And nearly half the farmers who sold their crop to these private traders were paid less than the government rate.

Farmers and farm labourers in J&K-Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Odisha reported highest percentages of their farming activities having come to a complete standstill during the lockdown. This was highest in J&K-Ladakh where 87 per cent farmers reported farming coming to a complete standstill.

In J&K-Ladakh, only 10 per cent farmers reported harvesting crops on time. In Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar this figure stood at 28 per cent, 29 per cent, 34 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively.

Overall, a state wise analysis of disruption to farming activities indicates the disruption to harvesting and crop selling activities was greatest in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, followed by the eastern states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal. On the other hand, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh seem to have fared rather well in this regard.