In the midst of farmer agitation and rural distress reports in Odisha, the big shocker is more than three-fourth of agricultural households and overall half of the rural households in Odisha bear at least over Rs 40, 000 debts on their head. For this high rate of indebtedness among rural households, Odisha figured among the top-10 rural indebtedness States in country.
According to recently released All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey 2017 by Nabard (NFAIS-17) conducted during January – June 2017, a whopping around 64 per cent of farm households in the State owes a debt.
And on an average, a high of 54 per cent households (farm andnon-farm) in rural Odisha are indebted. Odisha was placed 7th in the dubious list off high rural indebtedness among major States in country led by Telengana.
Moreover, NFAIS-17 reveals that though nearly three-fifth of farm households have taken loan from institutional sources like commercial banks, cooperative societies etc, a whopping two-fifth or around 40 per cent have sourced their loans from SHGs/MFIs and non-institutional sources like relatives/moneylenders etc. Nabard sources revealed small and medium farmers in Odisha took more loans from non-institutional sources as around 17 per cent of such small and medium farm households have taken more than two loans in a single agricultural year of 2015-16 taken as sample for survey.
But experts consider Nabard figures a sort of an understatement of prevailing indebtedness in State as they pointed out that NFAIS-17 was conducted in only 12 districts of State, and the big revelation is the survey has not covered high agri-distress prone districts like Bargarh, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Balangir.
The NFAIS-17 has revealed that borrowing from non-institutional sources is higher among non-farm households in State. The Report finds that around 44 per cent of non-farm households in Odisha owe a debt, and around three-fifth of them borrow from non-institutional sources.
The NFAIS -17 added that the amount of debt owed overall by farm and non-farm rural households ranges from Rs 1, 04, 602 to Rs 76, 731.The big fact is nearly one-third of farmers here have taken consumption loan – means loans to meet their sundry needs – and around one-tenth for medical expenses.
How prevalent the rural distress is signalled well when around 54 per cent of rural households carry debts in Odisha, whereas a fact of significance is rural monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) in Odisha is fourth lowest in country. Comparatively, States (West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand) with lower MPCE than Odisha have average indebtedness of around 34-30 per cent only.
The survey estimated average rural MPCE in Odisha at around Rs 5,613 against national average of Rs6, 646. The MPCE is far lower in Odisha farm households because a whopping 42 per cent of around 58 per cent farm households are small and marginal (owning below 1 hectare) farmers. And the NFAIS-17 found MPCE of households having below 1 hectare land below State average MPCE.
Another significant data is when around 60 per cent farmers in Odisha have MGNREGS job card, nearly 20 per cent still don’t have ration cards, revealed a surveyor engaged in the survey in Odisha.