Job creation at the farmer’s doorstep’

The Telangana government’s recent announcement of the Rythu Bandhu scheme has spotlighted the policy of utilising cash transfer to assist land-owning farmers with a non-agricultural income — instead of the traditional policy measures of price interventions, trade restrictions and farm loan waivers. While the scheme is nominally intended as investment support for inputs such as seeds and pesticides, it implies a transfer of Rs. 8,000 per acre for every landowning farmer over two crop seasons.As Credit Suisse notes, the scheme has an inbuilt bias for large farmers, allowing 9% of farmers with more than five acres to earn 34% of the total payout. My travels across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, among other States, over the last few years, have shown how difficult it is for marginal farmers to eke out a living from just agricultural income.

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