Archive for November, 2017

The survey report and article we publish below is significant in that it has been carried out, not by a Government agency, academic institution or private firm, but by an agricultural labourers’ organisation. Indeed, the surveyors were members of agricultural labour households of the very villages they surveyed.

The article points out that, while there is much discussion about the debt of the landed peasantry, there is a paucity of even information about the debt of landless agricultural labourers (largely Dalit). The organisation, Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, has consequently carried out its own survey of agricultural labourers in 10 villages of Punjab’s Malwa region and two villages in the Doaba region. Among the facts of particular interest that emerge from the survey: 

(1) 84 per cent of the agricultural labour families surveyed were in debt, with an average debt of over Rs 91,000 per family.

(2) Interest rates on most of this debt ranged from 18 to 60 per cent per annum.

(3) The share of banks and cooperative societies in these households’ debt was only 16 per cent; indeed, the share of public sector banks was negligible.

(4) Nearly 30 per cent of the debt was extended by landowning farmers of different size categories (half of this amount came from those owning more than 10 acres).

(5) Private moneylenders accounted for almost one-fourth of the debt, charging usurious rates.

(5) A significant new finding is that microfinance agencies too accounted for almost one-fourth of the loans, charging interest rates as usurious as those of moneylenders. The authors of the article have commented on this new phenomenon in the latter half of the piece.

— RUPE

[Download tables and Hindi version of survey]

 

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