A recent study has shown PM-KISAN project has positive impact on adoption of modern technologies by farmers.
We came across this study in the social media. Economic & Political Weekly, a far left publication had published an article written by the study’s original authors. We could download the original study itself from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) so we present excerpts and highlights.
You can view the original report here by Deepak Varshney et al. Although the study itself was done in May-July 2019 with selected households in randomly selected villages in the plains of UP, we presume it’s findings have relevance across the nation.
The study also tries to distinguish between villages that have benefited from demonstrations and other advise from KVK.
Highlights & comments
PM-KISAN is essentially a cash transfer scheme. It pays each eligible farmer Rs. 6,000 per year in three installments. Although meant to help farmers purchase agri inputs, cash is given directly to them through bank transfer and not linked to any purchase. Within three months of the PM-KISAN scheme’s start, 30% of the sampled farmers had already received cash transfers, some even the second installment.
The study shows nearly half of beneficiaries spent the first installment of money on agriculture, the intended purpose. This figure drops to 23% for the subsequent payment. The second installment was paid in the off-season.
KVK (Krishi Vigyan Kendra) are presently established in 716 places all over India, as per ICAR website statistics. It’s objective is to select and showcase technologies relevant to farmers and capacity building via trainings and other programs. Based on another study cited in the report, only 10% of the farmers have access to KVKs which means a body that has already been in existence for half a century has a lot more work to do! This is not unusual given the way Indian bureaucracy works. If you go around asking coffee planters in Coorg how many of them have had visits from Coffee Board or its field experts, you may get a similar reply.
It appears the villages where KVK has done its work of technology demonstrations and other forms of education, beneficiaries tend to spend more of the cash received on adopting modern cultivars. Thus there is a clear synergy in these schemes, something government has to take into consideration. The study claims the PM-KISAN has increased the adoption of modern cultivars among KVK beneficiaries by 36%, as compared with non-beneficiaries. However, KVK has benefits to all farmers, not just beneficiaries of PM-KISAN, so we are not clear if this 36% is incremental or just overall. We have emailed authors for confirmation and shall update this upon receipt of any reply.
A few other statistics relating to the sampled farmers are relevant to cite - 39% were below poverty line and average land holding was half hectare. The household size is still very large at 5.63 despite years of falling birth rates. Their non-farm income is negligible. Only about half have received Kisan Credit card. These are somewhat depressing statistics and show how far UP has to go before it can become India’s growth engine.
Our backward states like UP still have a long way to go. If a small payment of Rs. 2000 can make so much difference, one can imagine impact of other forms of cash and non-cash assistance! Despite all progress, statistics of land holdings, BPL levels etc are still quite bad.
While PM-KISAN is a good scheme, we would suggest education and health sector improvements will relieve the poor of a large portion of their spending and also produce better outcomes across the board. One wonders how many of these families will at best, go bankrupt and at worse, simply die for want of care should a major illness strike them or their dependents.
It is also essential to ensure various statutory and government bodies that are setup to help farmers and others do their job. If they work like typical government offices where staff come and go as they please, a lot of money is wasted for nothing other than feeding these parasites. To start with, government has to question why these should be Headquartered in Delhi at all!
One can safely assume the entire manpower of a supposedly farmer oriented body that sits in Delhi and in other big towns does nothing but paper work. They should be out there in smaller towns and villages with may be skeleton staff in the HQ.