Supporters of the three farm laws have been arguing that the new regime will help farmers receive better prices by selling products in the open market rather than the APMCs. SAS data does not support such a claim
That Indian agriculture has been distress-ridden is an accepted fact in post-reform India. However, this is often discussed more in terms of farmers’ suicides, especially during the last decade, or abysmally low farm incomes. Both underline the crisis in farming, but neither is helpful in framing a forward-looking approach.
If farm incomes have to improve in India, it is important to understand the business of farming. This entails a holistic look at the entire process, from the farmer buying inputs for cultivation to selling his produce. Any such analysis requires information on farm balance sheets.
The latest Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households and Land and Livestock Holdings of Households in Rural India (SAS) released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) gives this information from July 2018 to June 2019. SAS is the most comprehensive document on farm incomes in India.
This two-part series by Hindustan Times will look at the business of farming using an analysis of unit-level data from SAS. The first part will look at conditions in output markets for farmers. The second part will look at what farmers feel about input markets.