Survey on how much farmers can spend
The National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) in its 59th round had pointed out the household size for farmer households spells out their monthly per capita expenditure (mpce). Their latest survey shows that household size was largest for the lowest mpce bracket. The largest households, 6.9 members, had an mpce less than or equal to Rs 225 and the smallest households (4.1 members) had an mpce more than Rs 950. Thus average household size declined steadily with a rise in mpce.
Executed for the first time, the survey covered 51,770 sample farmer households over 6,638 villages in the country. The survey also indicates farmers' incomes have not been able to keep pace with increase in income for all rural households, which also include non-agricultural activities. In 2003, the mpce for farmer households India-wide was Rs 502.83, whereas that for rural households was Rs 554.15. Farmers also spent less per month on food items (Rs 278.74) compared to Rs 298.57 spent by rural households. Assam farmers spend a maximum share (65 per cent) of their total expenditure on food, followed by Jharkhand at 64 per cent, Bihar (62 per cent), West Bengal (61 per cent) and Sikkim at 60 per cent.
Nagaland had the highest percentage of farmers in the highest mpce bracket (36 per cent; mpce higher than Rs 950) and also the highest per capita monthly expenditure on education (Rs 77.21). Surprisingly, Kerala farmers are the lowest spenders on education at Rs 42.36 per month though they have the highest mpce (Rs 900.59), and figure highest in monthly medical expenditure at Rs 97.78. The survey also revealed the impoverished state of a significant percentage of farmers in some states. 22 per cent of farmer households in Orissa, 11 per cent in Jharkhand, eight per cent in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and six per cent in Bihar have an mpce less than or equal to Rs 225.
-- Padmaparna Ghosh
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